Baleka Mbete sworn in as speaker of the House

The National Assembly on Wednesday elected ANC national chair Baleka Mbete as speaker after 400 new MPs took their seats – ranging from the red-clad initiates of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to veterans of the post-apartheid Parliament.

Mbete easily defeated the Democratic Alliance’s nominee for the post, former ANC Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela, who first defected to the Congress of the People and then to the official opposition in 2012.

Mbete won 260 votes compared with Balindlela’s 88. There were 366 ballots cast of which 18 were invalid.

Mbete previously held the post from 2004 to 2008 and now replaces the widely respected Max Sisulu, who was sworn in as an ordinary ANC MP on Wednesday.

Political analyst Steven Friedman said Sisulu had a reputation for listening to all political parties and Mbete’s election was a clear sign that the ruling party wanted the speaker to do “what the ANC wants”.

Outgoing co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Lechesa Tsenoli was elected deputy speaker unopposed.

Earlier, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng called MPs to take the oath or solemn affirmation in groups of 10, with the first including President Jacob Zuma. – Sapa

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