AS part of the Taking Parliament to the People Campaign, citizens, including the youth, are encouraged to make an effort to learn about the complexities of being in the legislature.
The public can participate in parliamentary and legislature programmes and affairs through forums, meetings, submissions, interacting with members of parliament (MPs) as well as following and responding to events in the media.
This year, five provincial legislatures are hosting the youth through the Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards. These are Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, Gauteng, North West and Northern Cape.
Over the past two weeks, KwaZulu-Natal deputy speaker Mtholephi Mthimkhulu and Limpopo Provincial Administration chairperson Charlie Sekwati hosted the contestants in their respective legislatures.
At the weekend, the Young Communicators delegates had the rare honour of competing in the North West legislature in Mafikeng.
Their speeches, prepared in parliamentary debate style will be hosted in Gauteng and Northern Cape's legislatures over the next few weeks.
Parliament is responsible for making and passing laws. The South African parliament consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Each house has its own distinct role and functions, as set out in the Constitution.
But the two Houses sometimes sit together to conduct what is called joint business.
The National Assembly also chooses the president and is a national forum where issues are debated publicly.
The NCOP ensures that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government.
During debates in the legislatures or in committees, MPs enjoy a high degree of freedom of speech, subject only to adopted house rules.
This right entitles members members to certain privileges including protection in terms of a law called the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act of 2004.
The use of foul language is prohibited. - For more information on Taking Parliament to the People programme, visit www.parliament.gov.za.