Mbete over Sisulu

2014-05-21 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Luthuli House will stand strong in Parliament with Baleka Mbete to steer matters in the National Assembly.

This is the view of a senior ANC MP after the ANC yesterday elected Mbete, who is also the ANC chairperson, as the Speaker for the fifth parliamentary term that starts today.

He said the ANC had to improve its performance in Parliament, adding that Mbete is the right person to ensure the ANC leadership has a strong presence in Parliament.

Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe announced at a media conference after the NEC meeting that Mbete will take over as Speaker from Max Sisulu.

Lechesa Tsenoli, previously minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, is the new deputy Speaker, Stone Sizani remains as the ANC chief whip and Doris Dlakude is the deputy chief whip.

Mantashe also unexpectedly announced that former Reserve bank governor Tito Mboweni had withdrawn as MP.

He did not want to say why, saying it would be “unethical” for him to give Mboweni’s reasons.

Yesterday the media speculated Mboweni could still be appointed as finance minister despite his surprise withdrawal. Two cabinet members are allowed to come from outside Parliament, as current Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan does.

Other speculations were that Sisulu’s term as Speaker had came to an end in the wake of his decision to appoint a parliamentary ad hoc committee to investigate the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla.

Mantashe strenuously denied this speculation and said Sisulu was not the head of the Nkandla project. There is thus no reason for the party to blame him.

He said Sisulu had only handled the fallout from Nkandla and it was his job to handle the Nkandla report as it had been submitted to Parliament.

Sister paper Beeld has, however, learnt that Sisulu did make himself available for a second term.

Mantashe did not want to give reasons why Sisulu was not re-elected.

ANC MPs told Beeld the entire ANC had a lot of respect for the Sisulu family and it was “absurd to think the party would hold the Nkandla committee against him”.

Sisulu may meanwhile be getting a cabinet post.

Mbete was the Speaker of the Assembly from 2005 to 2008. MPs who worked with her said she is someone who would ensure the ANC’s will happens in Parliament.

They described her as strong, capable, effective and a very loyal ANC cadre.

Political analyst Richard Calland said Mbete is very ambitious and a “heavy weight” and based on this the party had to give her an important position.

The Speaker, deputy Speaker, chief whip and deputy chief whip are elected by the ANC’s top six leadership after which the people are approved by the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

ANC MPs were yesterday afternoon informed how they must vote today.

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