Opposition reject election

2013-10-09 00:00

THE election of a new speaker for the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature yesterday was greeted with disdain by the DA when party members walked out, and a no-show by the IFP.

Former Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC Lydia Johnson was elected to fill the position left vacant by Peggy Nkonyeni, who was appointed as new Education MEC on Monday.

Until her election, Johnson was the chairperson of chairs after serving as the chairperson of the health portfolio committee.

Yesterday however, her election, presided over by KZN Judge President Chiman Patel, was marked by a walk-out by the DA and the absence by the IFP.

“The DA exercises its right to boycott the proceedings of the election of the speaker,” DA chief whip Radley Keys said.

The party later accused the Office of the Speaker of being abused by the ANC for its own party political purposes and for showing extreme partiality for the ANC.

In response, deputy speaker Mtholephi Mthimkhulu said “the DA can exercise its democratic right”.

The IFP’s Muntomuhle Khawula said the party chose not to participate in the election because they received the nomination of the speaker at 5 pm on Monday and did not have enough time to respond to it.

When Johnson was the only candidate nominated, Patel named her as the new speaker.

Johnson said she was happy to have been elected to her new role, and thanked the ANC for bestowing the new responsibility on her.

“I am committing to discharge my responsibility to the best of my ability,” she said.

In congratulating Johnson, Premier Senzo Mchunu said the ruling party has confidence and trust she would conduct the business of the Legislature with honour and dignity.

Elected to fill the chairperson of chairs was premier and royal household portfolio committee chairperson Sipho Gcabase, who previously served as ANC provincial secretary.

Taking Gcabashe’s position as the new portfolio committee chairperson was Nkosi Zibuse Mlaba.

The ANC also named its Moses Mabhida regional chairperson Alpha Shelembe as the MPL to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of former premier Zweli Mkhize.

Shelembe, the former deputy mayor of Msunduzi Municipality, was recently acquitted of corruption charges.

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