Cape Town - The ANC has made two changes in Parliament in appointing Baleka Mbete as the new Speaker, as the party prepares to be “pushed to the limit” by a stronger opposition.
Former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Lechesa Tsenoli will serve as Mbete’s deputy.
This won’t be Mbete’s first time serving as Speaker - she did so from 2004 to 2008.
She and Tsenoli will be officially nominated for election to their positions by the National Assembly on Wednesday when the new Parliament convenes.
The ANC has retained its previous chief whip Stone Sizani, as well as his deputy Doris Dlakude.
A surprise announcement was that of former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni’s withdrawal from the party’s parliamentary list.
Mboweni has been linked with a possible move to the treasury as finance minister to take the baton from Pravin Gordhan.
Briefing the media after the ANC’s first caucus meeting, party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the fact that the party had lost 15 seats meant its MPs would have to work harder.
“The responsibility will spread among fewer members of Parliament.
“We also took the opportunity of giving them (the caucus) the breakdown of election results. We would like to inform them (the caucus) that hard work is important. The quality of work we do is important,” Mantashe said.
“The expectation of opposition parties pushing us to the limit, we should all be ready for them. And (it’s) the quality of the responses that will keep us safe.”
He said the changes in the party’s parliamentary list were not “resignations” - including former communications minister Dina Pule’s decision to pull out.
“There is withdrawal from the list. There is one other withdrawal - that is of Tito Mboweni,” Mantashe said.
He would not reveal the reasons for the withdrawal, but said Mboweni would be doing “something different in the best interests of the country and himself”.
“A member of the ANC, when withdrawing from the list, writes a letter to the ANC explaining that those are the reasons. I don’t think it will be ethical to call a press conference to read a letter that Mboweni wrote to the ANC.”
He said there would be a “redirection” of another member to take over from ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, who would now focus on being an MP.
“Because he is coming to Parliament, we will have to get another senior member of the ANC, a member of the national executive committee, to be the spokesperson of the ANC,” Mantashe said.
On striking a balance on gender, Mantashe said the ANC’s gender policy was “not negotiable”.
“Gender parity is the policy of the ANC and it’s not negotiable. If you go through our lists you’ll see that we stick to gender parity to the letter.”