What is a petition
A petition is a way of bringing a grievance or an issue of public concern to the attention of Parliament to take action within its authority. A petition asks for some form of relief which Parliament is competent to grant in accordance with its jurisdiction.
Who can petition Parliament?
The right to petition Parliament is the right of every citizen of the country and is provided for in our Constitution. Any person, groups of people or an organisation has the right to petition Parliament.
types of petitions
There are generally two types of petitions that can be submitted to Parliament, that is, a special and a general petition. Special petition is a petition from an individual that is requesting for a specific relief, in the form of a pension, for service rendered to the State for which there is no law providing for it.
A general petition is a petition from an individual or group of people on a matter requiring a relief of a general nature.
Presentation of a petition
Only a Member of Parliament can present a petition in Parliament for it to be formally before Parliament for its consideration. A member of the public or group of people wishing to petition Parliament must therefore send their petition to a Member of Parliament requesting the Member to present it on their behalf in Parliament.
Once a petition is received in Parliament, it will be referred to the relevant committee for consideration. The committee is then required to report to its House once it has discussed the petition. In its report, the committee will make recommendations to the House about the content of the petition. If the House decides to adopt the committee’s recommendations, those recommendations will be communicated to the member of the executive dealing with that particular matter.
In this way, Parliament ensures that the voice of the people is heard even at the highest levels.
Form and Content of Petition
For a petition to be acceptable to Parliament it must:
• be in the form prescribed by the Speaker or the Chairperson of the committees;
• be in one of the official languages;
• be signed by the petitioners themselves (unless the Speaker or the Chairperson of the committees decides otherwise);
• not contain improper, disrespectful or unparliamentary language;
• clearly explain the issue or circumstances for Parliament’s consideration; and
• must indicate the nature of the relief asked from Parliament which Parliament is able to grant in terms of its authority.