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Cheers, jeers mark MPs day

By unknown | May 07, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

It was a day of glowing tributes for president-elect Jacob Zuma, who was even christened "a rose by any other name" when newly sworn in members of Parliament voted him into the presidency yesterday.

Zuma beat Cope's Mvume Dandala to the throne - who was nominated by his party as a contender.

A visibly emotional Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said Zuma was the epitome of the "struggle against the worst humanity has to offer and of peoples' determination to prevail over whatever obstacles there may be".

Stony-faced DA MPs sat silently shaking their heads while Madikizela-Mandela, paraphrasing Shakespeare, described Zuma as "a rose by any other name".

Before Zuma was elected president, chief justice Pius Langa spent over two hours swearing in the 400 MPs - taking 10 of them at a time.

Businessman Tokyo Sexwale was also sworn in, further fuelling speculation that he is destined for cabinet and possibly the presidency after Zuma's term of office ends.

ANC members booed loudly as Cope's new MPs, including Dandala, Smuts Ngonyama, Phillip Dexter, Mluleki George and deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa, were called forward to take their oaths.

And when the first group of IFP members took their positions to be sworn in there was such loud laughter that Langa had to call for order.

A small fracas broke out when ANC MPs made meowing noises as Cope's Lynda Odendaal, dressed in a fitted bright yellow skirt suit, cast her vote for the president.

Max Sisulu and former Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo were elected uncontested as speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.

Sisulu said experienced MPs would be on hand to assist the newcomers to the national assembly.

He joked that as the first ever male speaker, he expected many MPs to slip up and call him "madam speaker" from time to time.

Outside, former minister in the presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has transformed herself from a close ally of former president Thabo Mbeki, into one of Zuma's most ardent fans, said she was happy to be an MP again.

"The communities out there are expecting a lot and I will continue to do the work I have always done," she said.

But Cope youth leader Anele Mda promised to reinvigorate Parliament.

Dressed in a flamboyant shiny pink ballgown, Mda said Cope is "registering the arrival of young people who will be active in changing the country".

"I don't think there were any young people in Parliament before Cope," Mda told Sowetan, referring to former ANC youth league leaders who were criticised for claiming to be youth even when they have passed the age of 35.


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