MPs register ahead of first sitting of Parliament

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cape Town - New and old Members of Parliament are making a steady flow to the Old Assembly Wing to register ahead of Wednesday's first sitting of the National Assembly.

The 400 MPs need to be registered before they can be sworn-in on Wednesday in the first National Assembly sitting, to be presided over by Chief Justice Pius Langa. They will in turn elect the new President.

The members are drawn from the candidate lists of political parties that received enough votes in the 2009 General Election to secure seats in the National Assembly.

Excitement has been building in and around Parliament ahead of Wednesday's sitting, with registration getting underway yesterday.

As is tradition, the area around parliament will come alive with activity tomorrow as drummers and dancers welcome the dignitaries from as early as 07:30 in the morning.

Fashion will also take centre stage as some MPs, especially those first timers, will expect to make a statement in their chosen attire.

Diplomats, guests of the Presidency, guests of leaders of political parties represented in Parliament and guests of those who will be sworn in as MPs will also attend the event.

Those allocated to the National Assembly Chamber will need to be seated by 10am, to allow Chief Justice Langa, as the head of the Constitutional Court, to open proceedings at 10.30am.

The members are set to be introduced in batches of ten and will be sworn-in, in their language of choice.

A total of 13 political parties will be represented in the National Assembly. The African National Congress will have 264 seats, the Democratic Alliance will have 67 seats, the Congress of the People will have 30 seats and the Inkatha Freedom Party will have 18 seats.

The Freedom Front Plus, Independent Democrats and the United Democratic Movement will each have four seats, the African Christian Democratic Party will have three seats, the United Christian Democratic Party 2 and the African People's Convention, Azanian People's Organisation, Minority Front and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania will each have one.

After taking the oath of office, the 400 new members are expected to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker before voting for the new President later in the afternoon.

This term, the assembly will be a different place from the one whose term expired after the election. New parties, new faces and some surprise returnees will grace its benches.

The most noticeable of the MPs who are returning after an absence from Parliament, is president-in-waiting Jacob Zuma. He resigned from his seat after former President Thabo Mbeki recalled him as Deputy President.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela has also made a come back together will Max Sisulu.