/ 21 May 2019

Ramaphosa will not be elected unopposed — DA

John Steenhuisen
John Steenhuisen, the party’s chief whip, says their gesture will be more than just symbolic. (David Harrison/M&G)

The official opposition in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance (DA), says it will decide on Wednesday morning who it will nominate as its own candidate for Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and president when they gather in the National Assembly.

Four hundred members of Parliament will be sworn in by Chief Justice Moegoeng Moegoeng, after which they will elect a Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and President of the Republic.

The ANC will nominate Thandi Modise as Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli as Deputy Speaker, and Cyril Ramaphosa as president.

If no other party nominates anyone from among the gathered MPs for these positions, they will be elected unopposed.

But if elections are contested, the ANC — with its 230 seat majority in the 400-seat National Assembly — will more than likely have its pick.

But the DA says it will also field candidates to contest these positions.

“Caucus will meet in the morning and we will set up candidates that we’ll put up for the particular elections. We will nominate the appropriate people and we will have a discussion on how we’ll approach that… We’ve got to show the people the choice that they have,” party leader Mmusi Maimane said.

The DA’s attempts will in all likelihood be futile.

But John Steenhuisen, the party’s chief whip, says their gesture will be more than just symbolic.

“It’s our job as the official opposition to provide an alternative, that’s what we’ve been elected to do. The positions we contest tomorrow, it will be up to the caucus to decide that. But I don’t think that we can simply allow the ANC to have their way,” he said.

The DA returns to Parliament with a smaller caucus of 84 MPs. After the 2014 general elections, the party sent 89 MPs to the legislature.

Maimane also addressed the social media furore surrounding outgoing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

He’s distanced himself from Zille’s tweets in which she claimed black South Africans have “black privilege”.

READ MORE: Zille tweets ‘black privilege’, DA stays mum

The party has now decided on disciplinary proceedings against Zille.

“The resolution to that problem is not about discussing black privilege or white privilege. It’s a discussion to ask black South Africans and white South Africans to work towards addressing a historical injustice. So any view that seeks to polarise South Africans on the basis of race is not a view I will support,” Maimane said.

It wouldn’t be the first time Zille’s tweets have gotten her in trouble with the party.

She’s already been censured over tweets that said that colonialism was not all bad.