POINT OF ORDER: When to raise it?

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Given the re-newed interest in governance, what with increased viewership of the RSA Parliament, and general prima facie public input on lawmakers, legislative bodies, members of Parliament and matters affecting them, case in point the public interest and engagement in #SONA2016: State of the Nation Address 2016. There has been a heightened rise in the jargon used in Parliament meetings by the layman on the streets, which is frankly positive given that members of Parliament represent constituencies (your interests) – it therefore pays to be ‘in the know’.

A phrase that has gained notoriety in recent times, made famous by members of Parliament, but is additionally used in meetings et al, is ‘Point of Order’.

A ‘Point of Order’ is a tool, which is used to draw attention to a breach in procedural rules, an irregularity, the irrelevance or the continued repetition of a speaker or breaching of the established practices.

When and how can a point of order be invoked?

If a member thinks the meeting does not follow the rules, he or she can raise a point of order.

A member may raise a point of order to:

  • remind the meeting of a rule;
  • point out that a member is off the point;
  • point out that a member is talking for too long;
  • point out that a member does not have the authority to act in a certain way &
  • complain about bad language

To raise a point of order, one would have to stand up and say: “Point of Order”. One must then sit down again and wait for the Chairperson’s permission to speak. The Chairperson may then allow you to say/state what the point of order is. The Chairperson must decide if the point of order is valid before the meeting can continue.

It is a procedural tool at best.

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