Baleka Mbete for deputy president number two?

ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete may still make a bid for second deputy president of South Africa if the final legislature lists released on Friday are anything to go by. 

But to do so, the party would need to woo at least 18 people from the opposition to vote with them to change the Constitution and allow for a second deputy president – and give 30 days notice to pass an amendment Bill. 

Mbete appears at number 25 on the ANC’s finalised list for the National Assembly. 

It’s not clear if Mbete will agree to be sworn in this time, as she surprised onlookers during the last ceremony for MPs in 2009 when she refused the swearing in. Observers saw the move as a play to be returned to the senior position she briefly enjoyed. Mbete has since been working from Luthuli House in purely a party position as ANC national chair. Accepting an ordinary MP post would see Mbete losing all the privileges that come with being a former deputy president of the country, which includes the deputy president’s salary and perks.

So why is Mbete on the list at all?

One scenario according to ANC insiders is that she might not be sworn in, sit at the number one spot on the reserve list and wait for the 30-day period to pass. The ANC can then redeploy an MP, swear in Mbete, and President Jacob Zuma could then appoint her deputy president of the country. 

Two-thirds majority problems
Keeping her on the list could be to ensure that she tops Parliament’s reserve list. Should anyone resign from Parliament or be redeployed, she would be the first to be considered. 

To change the Constitution, the ANC would need two thirds of the house to vote in favour of a Bill. That in itself could take more than a month to introduce to the National Assembly, publish for comment and then table. The party fell short of the two-thirds majority it was after, which would enable it to change the Constitution single-handedly. It would need 18 additional members to vote for the change. The only parties with that number and more MPs are opposition parties the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), both of which would be loathe to aid the ruling party. 

The Independent Electoral Commission handed over the names of the 830 representatives for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Friday.  

Speculation that Zuma would indeed appoint two deputy presidents was given credence by Mbete’s acceptance of a nomination to become an ANC MP – and now appearing on the final list

Mbete served briefly as state deputy president under Motlanthe, for seven months after former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled, and his deputy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, resigned. Mbete became the first woman to be elected national chairperson of the party in 2007. Previously, she rose to prominence as speaker of Parliament.

Land and black consciousness in Parliament
The ANC is eager to have a woman represented in the highest echelons of the party. It also wants four women premiers among the eight provinces, which are controlled by the ANC.

The EFF, meanwhile, are sending an interesting mix of MPs to parliament, including young and educated leaders such as Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Floyd Shivambu and Magdalene Moonsamy.

But most of the party’s MPs have never previously served in Parliament, provincial legislature or government. 

The party also features Primrose Sonti from Marikana as one of their MPs. Sonti is being punted as their good story: “From a corrugated iron shack to the corridors of legislative power,” as one EFF member said on Twitter. Are they painting a picture of representing grassroots, poor South Africans? Land is likely to be one of the most heated debates with black consciousness activist Andile Mngxitama in the mix.

That begs the question if the EFF will partner with the ANC to change the property clause in the Constitution. Malema made it clear at a briefing following his party’s 6.3% victory at the poll that his party would not be unnecessarily oppositional and would work with other parties such as the ANC to achieve key aims for the party, such as the expropriation of land without compensation. 

The two parties combined makes more than a two-thirds majority. 

Zuma himself has made it clear that he wants to change the Constitution to remove certain obstacles and speed up delivery.

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Matuma Letsoala
Guest Author
Mmanaledi Mataboge
Guest Author
Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

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