Thandi Modise becomes speaker as Cyril Ramaphosa gets his job back

22 May 2019 - 16:46
Thandi Modise was elected the new speaker of the National Assembly in Cape Town on May 22 2019.
Image: Esa Alexander Thandi Modise was elected the new speaker of the National Assembly in Cape Town on May 22 2019.

The ANC's Thandi Modise has been elected speaker of the National Assembly after defeating the DA's Richard Majola by 250 votes to 83.

Parliament also elected ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa unopposed as the new head of state and government, paving the way for his inauguration scheduled for Saturday.

Modise trounced Majola in a secret ballot that took almost two hours to conclude - all under the careful watch of chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Announcing the results, Mogoeng said there had been 17 spoiled ballots.

"I apologise for the delay. The reconciliation of the ballot papers … took longer to happen and because thoroughness is key, we spent as much time as was necessary to do the right thing," said Mogoeng as he announced the results.

Upon taking the speaker's seat, Modise - who was crossing over from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), where she served as chairperson until the May 8 election - immediately called for the return of decorum to the house.

She is taking over from Baleka Mbete, who is not returning to parliament after the ANC leadership opted to replace her with Modise.

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Modise also pledged to be "fair and unbiased" as speaker.

"I, together with other presiding officers, must at all times be fair and unbiased. The decorum of the house and the image of parliament must be maintained. We do not represent ourselves, honourable members; we represent the public. So at the start of this term, let's represent those who send us to parliament, let's respect those who are trusting us with the running of our country," she said.

The previous parliament was characterised by rowdiness, where the hurling of insults and the threat of physical violence became the order of business as MPs, largely from the EFF, tackled former president Jacob Zuma.

Modise said the job of the sixth parliament would be to continue holding the executive to account on how they spend public resources.

"I am honoured by the nomination and election to be speaker of the National Assembly, the second chamber of parliament. I understand fully the struggle to move SA forward," she said.

"As elected representatives, we're both the products and custodians of the values enshrined in our constitution. These values set the tone for how we conduct ourselves and how we manage the affairs our people for the common good.

"I understand the continued battle for dignity and respect for the majority of South Africans. I understand the differences and diversity of citizens who reside within our borders.

"I understand the role of the presiding officers as enablers of debate, protectors of the right of the public and public representatives to hold the executive to account and to capacitate themselves to adequately use the power of the purse-string to continue holding the executive to account," she said.

The ANC's Lechesa Tsenoli was re-elected unopposed as deputy speaker, a position he occupied in the previous parliament.