Parliament, Thursday 19 August 2021 – A Special sitting of the National Assembly (NA) has elected Ms Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula as new Speaker of the House this afternoon.
The sitting, which only had one agenda item, 'nomination of the speaker', was held under Section 52(1) of the Constitution that states that the NA "must elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members" whenever a vacancy occurs. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula, an African National Congress Member of Parliament, received 199 votes while the Democratic Alliance (DA) 's nominee, Dr Annelie Lotriet, bagged 82 votes with 17 votes spoilt. This represents a 66.8% of Members of Parliament present physically in Parliament as required by the Constitution.
The Constitution provides that the NA is elected to represent the people and ensure government by the people under the Constitution. The NA does this by choosing the President, providing a national forum for public consideration, passing legislation, and scrutinising and overseeing executive action. The Speaker is responsible for providing political leadership and strategic direction to the NA and exercising impartiality in carrying out these duties.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula, who hails from the Eastern Cape, is a seasoned legislator who brings a wealth of experience to the position - having been a Member of Parliament from 1999. She has held various positions, including being the Chief whip of the ANC in 2001 and Chairperson of the Joint Standing on Intelligence and Defence. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula has served as a member of the Executive for nearly two-decades, as a Deputy and Minister of Home Affairs, Correctional Services, and Defence and Military Veterans.
Gender and women issues are close to her heart, and she was a founding member of the East London Domestic Workers Association in the 1980s. A fearless anti-apartheid struggle activist, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula has dedicated her time and efforts to the liberation of the oppressed people of South Africa. She served in various structures of the ANC and was a National organiser, Secretary General and President of the Women's League and member of its National Executive Committee of the ANC.
She is the seventh Speaker since the dawn of democracy, six of whom were women Speaker’s. The first NA Speaker of SA’s democratic Parliament was Dr Frene Ginwala. She served until 2004, and Ms Baleka Mbete succeeded her until 25 September 2008. Ms Mbete became Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa when Mr Kgalema Motlanthe was President. Ms Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde became Speaker in 2008 until the 2009 election, after which Mr Max Sisulu became Speaker until 2014. Ms Mbete returned as NA Speaker in the fifth democratic Parliament, established after the 2014 election. She served until 2019, when Ms Thandi Modise succeeded her as Speaker, after the 2019 election.
The election of Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula today reaffirmed the Parliament of South Africa as one of the leading parliaments in Africa and the world in terms of women representation and leadership, being placed second and tenth respectively by the international body of Parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
In her inaugural speech as the Speaker, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula described Parliament as the last line of defence of the country's constitutional democracy. She urged all parties to collaborate in service to the people of South Africa, and pledged to ensure that fairness and integrity of Parliament is protected and promoted without fear of favour.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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