EFF makes Parliament see red

2014-05-21 10:17

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The Economic Freedom Fighters stole everyone’s thunder during the swearing-in ceremony for 400 new MPs at the opening of the fifth Parliament this morning.

Led by EFF leader Julius Malema in red overalls, a safety helmet and gumboots, EFF members delivered on their pledge to transform Parliament, in terms of dress code at least.

The new EFF MPs – 25 in all – first caused a stir outside Parliament as they made their grand entrance, the women wearing red “tea lady’’ domestic worker outfits or the men in red overalls.

A few of them wore gumboots, while others had designer shoes. Inside, their dress code generated chuckles from the gallery when they lined up in groups of 10 to raise their right hand to take the oath or affirmation before Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

At first glance, it seemed the EFF had spilt over into the Democratic Alliance seating area next to it with the DA’s Denise Robinson fitting in – or rather standing out – in a 100% red outfit.

Proceedings got under way at 10.30am with President Jacob Zuma being the first to be sworn in.

The floor looked vastly different from the fourth Parliament with dozens of first-time MPs taking the oath, including the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach.

There were also many more younger MPs this time, notably among the opposition.

Seated upstairs in the visitors’ gallery, in an area reserved for special guests, was Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, with presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj seated behind him.

MPs who broke the monotony of formal proceedings included the Congress of the People’s Mosiuoa Lekota, who received applause as he walked across the floor to take the oath with just two other members after the party’s weak performance in the elections.

Lekota shook Malema’s hand on his way back to his seat.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mario Ambrosini, who is battling cancer but returned to Parliament in a wheelchair, also received applause after he stoically rose to his feet to take the oath.

There was a lively atmosphere and a camaraderie on the floor throughout, prompting Mogoeng to appeal for quiet, saying there was a rowdiness on the floor.

He also appealed to MPs to sign their swearing-in certificates where they were supposed to – under the word, “member”, and not where he was supposed to put his signature.

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