The constitution of the National Assembly was marked by the singing of the national anthem, which was led by the parliamentary choir. Unusually, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who presided over the sitting, created an opportunity for three minutes of silent prayer and meditation.

He told members about the importance of the prayer at this time in South Africa as South Africa, according to him, is facing many challenges. He said the moment was not a meaningless ritual, but a meaningful one. Among the challenges the Chief Justice mentioned were corruption, unemployment and rising crime.

He urged members to pray specifically for solutions to the problems he highlighted. After the prayer and meditation, the Chief Justice outlined the manner in which the swearing-in of the 400 National Assembly (NA) members was going to take place. The swearing-in procedure included the calling out of members by the Acting Secretary to Parliament, Ms Baby Tyawa, and her team.

The new members of NA are a mixture of men, women and young people. The youngest among them are Ms Naledi Chirwa of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Mr Sibongiseni Ngcobo of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa of the African National Congress (ANC). They are all 25 years old.

The veteran NA Member of Parliament, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who has been a member of the NA since the first, second, third, fourth and fifth parliaments, is also part of the NA MPs of the 6th Parliament. Asked to comment after his swearing-in, he said he is looking forward to being part in the debates that will take place in the NA where he will share his rich parliamentary experience.

There are 14 political parties in the NA. The parties are as follows: the African National Congress, which is represented by 230 members; the Democratic Alliance, which is represented by 84 members; the Economic Freedom Fighters, which is represented by 44 members; the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), which is represented by 10 members; the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which is represented by 14 members; the National Freedom Party (NFP), which is represented by two members; the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), which is represented by four members; the African Independent Congress (AIC), which is represented by two members; the African Transformation Movement (ATM), which is represented by two members; the Al Jama-ah, which is represented by one member; the Congress of the People (Cope), which is represented by two members; the Good political party, which is represented by two members; the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), which is represented by one member; and the United Democratic Movement (UDM), which is represented by two members.

After being nominated by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise was elected and sworn in as the Speaker. Mr Lechesa Tsenoli was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the NA. A few days earlier the ANC announced its deployment of Ms Pemmy Majodina as the Chief Whip in the NA. Ms Majodina pledged “robust oversight” of caucus and vowed to crack the whip to make sure the majority party's caucus conducts robust oversight on the executive and does so diligently and intelligently.

By Mava Lukani

22 May 2018