MP's to elect new president at 2pm

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Parliament - The National Assembly will reconvene as 2pm to elect the President of the country.

Proceedings have been suspended in the first sitting of Parliament to allow the newly sworn-in Members of Parliament (MPs) to have lunch.

This morning, 400 MPs took an oath to affirm their responsibility to Parliament and the country in front of Chief Justice Pius Langa. They then elected Max Sisulu as the new Speaker and Nomaindia Mfeketo was elected as his Deputy.

Lining up in groups of 10, members raised their right hands and pledged to "obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all the other laws of the Republic".

African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma was among the first group to take the oath of affirmation. He is expected to be elected President of South Africa this afternoon.

The new Members of Parliament said they were upbeat about tackling the challenges under a Jacob Zuma presidency.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Koos Van der Merwe said: "This is my 32nd year in Parliament but there is something new this time, something exciting. It appears as if the new South Africa is coming to grips with things."

Meanwhile, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said she was looking forward to helping establish a people's Parliament. "The age of talking is past, we have to deliver and that's the only reason why I came back here."

Walking out of the National Assembly after the morning proceedings dressed in a light lilac dress, Ms Madikizela-Mandela, spoke of how "absolutely wonderful" it felt to be a member of the new National Assembly.

"It is absolutely wonderful and I am so excited. It will be a period for us to roll up our sleeves and to deliver. I am honoured to be a part of that," she said, flanked by Jeff Radebe and Lindiwe Hendricks.

The Freedom Front Plus's Dr Pieter Mulder said the proceedings in the morning had been very friendly. "We wonder if it will be more of the same or will we get a different Parliament. We will only know that when we start debating," he said.