New and old faces arrive at Parliament

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cape Town - South Africa's fourth democratic Parliament, which will open later this morning, will be a different place from the one whose term expired after the election.

There is a new party, new faces and some surprise returnees who will be gracing the National Assembly's benches this time.

The National Assembly will sit for the first time to elect new Members of Parliament, according to the number of seats won by each party in the General Election.

There have also been some late resignations as nine candidates have said they are no available to take up their positions. These are people who were included in the candidate list which was submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) after the elections.

According to the Parliamentary Communication Service, Nosiviwe Madlala-Routledge is no longer available to take her position as well as current Social Development Minister Dr Zola Skeyiya.

Dennis Bloem, who was number 125 on the African National Congress' list of candidates to fill its 264 seats in the House, has in the meantime ceased to be a member of the party. He is expected to be replaced by VG Smith.

Tirhani Joseph Mathebula, who was number 109 on the ANC's candidate list is also no longer available to take up his seat.

Congress of the People (Cope) President Mosiuoa Lekota has also said he is no longer available to take up one of his party's 30 seats in the National Assembly. This week Cope indicated that Mr Lekota would be based at it's party headquarters in Johannesburg.

There was also a resignation from the Independent Democrats (ID), the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP).

Some well-known faces who had previously chaired committees will also no longer be returning to Parliament.

Former Deputy Cabinet Ministers Fezile Bhengu and Andre Gaum; Langa Zita, who chaired the Environmental Affairs Committee; Job Sithole from the Foreign Affairs portfolio; James Ngculu from the Health portfolio and Shepherd Mayatula from the education portfolio will not be returning.

Among the MPs who will returning after an absence from Parliament, is Jacob Zuma. He resigned his seat after former President Thabo Mbeki recalled him as Deputy President. He is expected to be elected as President by the House later this afternoon.

Another notable return by Winnie Madikizela Mandela who is number five on the ANC list, Max Sisulu who is on number 39 and mining tycoon Tokyo Sexwale at number 31 on the ANC list.

Another major difference will be in the leadership of the National Assembly, where a total of 13 political parties will be represented.

Meanwhile, Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said in a statement on Tuesday, that current President Kgalema Motlanthe, will remain President of the Republic until the new President assumes office on 9 May.

"In terms of Section 87 of the Constitution, the President cannot be a Member of Parliament and it is for this reason that President Motlanthe will not be sworn in as a Member of Parliament when all other new members are sworn in tomorrow," he said.

The term of office of the outgoing Cabinet comes to an end when the newly elected President assumes offices on 9 May.

The President is expected to appoint and announce his new Cabinet by Sunday, 10 May.

Mr Maseko said the newly appointed members of Cabinet would be sworn in as Ministers and Deputy Ministers on Monday, 11 May, in Pretoria.