From polls to Parliament: Friends, enemies and high political drama

2014-05-21 15:11

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The DA caused drama in the National Assembly when it opposed the nomination of ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete by nominating its own member as Speaker.

The DA’s nomination of former Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela – and the arrival of 25 Economic Freedom Fighters for their first experience in Parliament – lent colour to what is often a predictable and dour affair in the election of parliamentary office-bearers.

As promised, EFF members arrived in a sea of red with the men wearing red overalls and dustcoats and the women dressed as domestic workers in red-and-white outfits.

They had removed the party regalia on their outfits ensuring that they remained within parliamentary dress code, even as they were widely criticised for seeking attention.

Even before they were ushered inside, EFF members sang and danced in anticipation of the swearing-in ceremony.

Magdalene Moonsamy, one of the new MPs, said despite their small number, they would make a difference in terms of taking the economic debate forward.

The party had yet to decide who was going to sit on which committee.

Asked about the EFF’s general approach to Parliament, Floyd Shivambu said: “We will be constructive where we have to and oppose where necessary.”

The EFF decided to abstain during the vote for the Speaker. Their members sat in their chairs and refused to go and vote as their names were called.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who chaired the proceedings to swear in MPs and elect the Speaker, said EFF members were within their rights not to vote and could not be compelled to do so.

Before the start of the proceedings, old friendships were renewed with former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale sharing a warm handshake with EFF leader Julius Malema and Shivambu. Former ANC Youth League treasurer Pule Mabe also went to the EFF section and chatted briefly to his former colleagues.

Former KZN premier Sibusiso Ndebele also went to embrace his former nemesis, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

IFP MP Mario Ambrosini, who is ill from cancer, looked frail in his wheelchair as he was sworn in. He made an effort to stand throughout his swearing-in.

ANC stalwart Pallo Jordan has surprisingly come back for another term. Mother and son, Sibongile and Mduduzi Manana, also provided some unique drama as they were sworn in.

Sibongile was an MEC in Mpumalanga and now moves to national politics while her son was the former deputy higher education minister in the past five years.

ANC rising stars Zizi Kodwa and Buti Manamela sat in the front seats that are usually occupied by Cabinet members, which may or may not be an indication of things to come.

» Mbete was elected speaker with 260 votes to Balindlela's 89.

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