21 May 2014

South Africa: Mogoeng Swears in MPs

Photo: Sapa
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, right, takes the Oath of Office wearing red workers' overalls along with other members of his party during the swearing in of MP's as South Africa's fifth Parliament convenes for the first time.

Parliament — The fifth democratic Parliament's 400 National Assembly MPs were sworn in on Wednesday -- some returning after two decades in the legislature, others like Julius Malema, taking up their seats for the first time.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng called MPs to take the oath or solemn affirmation in groups of 10, with the first including President Jacob Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, and Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor.

The next group included Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is widely expected to return to his portfolio when Zuma announces his Cabinet on Sunday, after Tito Mboweni withdrew from the ruling party's list of MPs.

Zuma will remain an MP for only a few hours before being formally elected president for a second term by members of the Assembly.

His former political protégé turned foe Malema was sworn in along with nine other members of his Economic Freedom Fighters, who hold 25 seats in the chamber after winning six percent of the vote in the May 7 elections.

Malema and his colleagues wore red boiler suits to symbolise their stated aim of representing the poor. But most MPs chose formal attire such as suits for the ceremony.

The Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimane was sworn in amid intense speculation that though he has no experience in the legislature, he will replace Lindiwe Mazibuko as the party's parliamentary leader.

Another new DA MP was former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, who joined the official opposition after a bruising labour dispute with the National Prosecuting Authority.

Before the sitting began, hugs, kisses, and handshakes were comfortably exchanged in the Assembly as MPs took their seats.

Animated conversations took place between ANC MPs -- more than 60 percent of whom are returning to the fifth Parliament after the elections.

Some of the ruling party's MPs walked over to MPs from the EFF to welcome them to the House for the first time.

Former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale greeted Malema warmly with a handshake and a pat on the back.

In contrast to the EFF newcomers, many MPs were taking the oath or solemn affirmation for the fifth time, having served in every post-apartheid Parliament.

Among them was former minister Pallo Jordan of the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Gravely ill IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini returned to the legislature in a wheel chair.

A frail looking Oriani-Ambrosini lifted himself out of his wheelchair with the help of an ornate walking stick, and stood hunched over while reading the oath.

Once all 400 members of the National Assembly had been sworn in, they were to elect a new Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

The ANC has nominated its national chairwoman Baleka Mbete to return to the post of Speaker which she held from 2004 to 2008.

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InFocus

South Africa: Members of Parliament Sworn In

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, right, takes the Oath of Office wearing red workers' overalls along with other members of his party during the swearing in of MP's as South Africa's fifth Parliament convenes for the first time.

Members of the country's fifth democratic Parliament have been sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Read more »