On 9 May 1994, the late struggle stalwart Albertina Sisulu rose from her seat in the first democratic sitting of Parliament to nominate former statesman Nelson Mandela as President in what has since become a historic visual in the minds of most South Africans.
That was 25 years ago. On Tuesday, ANC’s incoming Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina rose to nominate Cyril Ramaphosa for the position of President.
Addressing the house as a President-elect, he said the basis of his government and that of the incoming Cabinet will be that of collaboration, finding consensus and bringing about change.
He said despite coming from different political parties, all MPs have a common mandate to build a nation founded on the principles of social justice, solidarity and equality.
“All of us must see ourselves as holding the hopes and aspirations of our people…” he said.
“As for me, I commit myself to work day and night, to work very hard for the interests of our people,” he said.
The President-elect said this after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng confirmed his election unopposed.
“The nomination is in order and in terms of item five … of the Constitution, I declare Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa duly elected the President of the Republic of South Africa.
“I cease this opportunity to congratulate you on Mr President on your election…,” the Chief Justice said.
The President’s election came shortly after former National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise was elected as the Speaker of the National Assembly after a vote.
The Chief Justice declared Modise as a Speaker after she received 250 votes against the DA’s Thembekile Richard Majola, who received 83 votes. Some 17 ballots were spoilt.
Lechesa Tsenoli, MP, who was a Deputy Speaker in the 5th Parliament, retained his position after he was nominated unopposed.
Messages of congratulations
Shortly after the President’s election, opposition leaders took turns to congratulate the President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane wished the President great success.
“Lastly I would like to say, Mr President, that may this be a season of greater collaboration,” he said, adding that while they may have stood on opposite ends in the chamber, they are both patriots and dedicated to serving the interests of the people of South Africa.
EFF leader Julius Malema also congratulated the President, saying that when he sees him, he sees Winnie Mandela in action as he was among those who stood behind her when it was not popular to do so.
The leader of the GOOD Party, Patricia De Lille, said 25 years ago, the President, a “young man” at the time, he led MPs in drafting the Constitution and that he is now back.
She said that she hoped to see a government of integrity that will deliver better services.
She said she would like to offer the support and love of GOOD, but added that the love will not be unconditional as her party will hold him accountable.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Justice presided over the swearing-in of Members of Parliament in what was a marathon session.
Malema led fellow EFF MPs in a vosho ahead of taking their oaths or affirmation as members of the National Assembly.
MPs were called out in groups of 10 and among them, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, long-serving IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the leader of the GOOD party Patricia De Lille were called in at different intervals to be sworn-in.
Ahead of the sitting, ANC released a statement announcing that Deputy President David Mabuza had decided to postpone his swearing-in to address matters raised by the party’s Integrity Commission.
The ANC also announced that due to “family responsibilities and her being in mourning”, former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has informed the party that her deployment to Parliament be reconsidered as she would be unable to diligently and with commitment, fulfil her duties at this stage.
Other MP nominees who have withdrawn their names for various reasons include former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gibaba and former Speaker Baleka Mbete.