FORMER Mpumalanga MEC for health Sipho Lubisi has been appointed speaker of the provincial legislature.

Lubisi succeeds Jackson Mthembu, who is now the ANC's national spokesperson.

As expected, the DA and Cope nominated another ANC man, Fish Mahlalela, who declined nomination.

The ruling party then chose Lubisi.

DA leader in the province Anthony Benadie said his party accepted defeat.

"We can only wish Lubisi the very best of luck for his tenure as speaker - a post he held before - and commit ourselves to working with him in building the best provincial legislature in the country," Benadie said.

"Lubisi should remember that discipline and loyalty to people are the best weapons. If he rejects patronage in all its manifestation he will never go wrong."

Cope provincial leader Prudence Madonsela said though their preferred candidate had lost, "we believe that the process represents a victory for democracy and the Constitution".

"It is imperative that everyone, including the ANC, understands that speakers are not simply deployments of the ruling party but are actually elected by the legislature as a constitutionally established body," she said.

Lubisi said he would never betray the trust bestowed on him by members who nominated him.