22 May 2014
African National Congress (ANC) chairperson Baleka Mbete was elected Speaker of Parliament, replacing Max Sisulu, during the the first sitting of South Africa’s fifth democratic Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Mbete was elected Members of Parliament after beating Nosimo Bhalendlela, who was nominated by the Democratic Alliance, in a secret ballot, winning 260 votes to Bhalendlela’s 80.
The house broke out into ululations when the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng made the announcement.
Mbete was the Speaker from 2005 to 2008. She also served for a while as the country’s Deputy President after the recall of Thabo Mbeki in 2008. She is described by MPs who have worked with her as strong, capable and effective.
Mbete said she was humbled by her appointment and would carry out her tasks conscious of the Constitution. “Your trust in me has not been misplaced,” she said.
Mbete welcomed new members to the house, saying more than half had not served in the previous Parliament. She reminded them of their mandate to serve the people who had voted for them.
“After 20 years of democracy, we dare not fail our people. Let us further entrench the spirit of democracy. Let each one of us represent our people with dignity and honour.”
Earlier in Wednesday’s proceedings, Chief Justice Mogoeng presided over the swearing in ceremony of the 400 new Members of Parliament, representing 13 political parties.
In batches of 10, the new MPS took an oath affirming their faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution.
The first group included President Jacob Zuma, ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and current Cabinet ministers Malusi Gigaba, Naledi Pandor, Jeff Radebe, Fikile Mbalula, Blade Nzimande, Bathabile Dlamini, Lindiwe Sisulu and Collins Chabane.
Approximately 42 percent of South Africa’s new MPs are women. In terms of age, the oldest is 85 and the youngest 22. The average age of the representatives is 50.