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Bloemfontein - Twenty-nine public representatives were sworn in as members of the Free State legislature by acting Judge President Mojalefa Rampai in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Rampai called the new members in groups of four to five to take the oath or solemn affirmation of loyalty to South Africa and the province.
One by one the members agreed they would “respect the Constitution and all other laws” of South Africa and “serve the Free State” to the best of their ability.
Twenty-one African National Congress members, five Democratic Alliance members, two Economic Freedom Fighters members, and one Freedom Front Plus member were sworn in. One ANC member was absent.
Security personnel initially stopped the two EFF members, Mandisa Makesini and Jacob Tshabalala, from entering the legislature in their red overalls.
Their colleagues at Parliament in Cape Town also arrived to be sworn in wearing similar outfits.
Makesini said legislature staff had indicated they were not properly dressed.
“We were honouring our voters,” she said afterwards.
Asked later, officials could not immediately provide a copy of the legislature's dress code in the House Rules.
The only member who drew reaction from the public gallery during the swearing in was new DA representative James Letuka.
When Letuka said in a resonant, deep voice: “Honourable, I would like to take the oath,” a young man on the media balcony remarked in surprise: “There is a real man.”
Sisi Mabe was elected speaker and Sizwe Mbalo deputy speaker. She promised not to take her job lightly and urged the various political parties to work together for the country's future.
In a possible reference to the EFF's red overalls, she urged all members to maintain the legislature's parliamentary dress code and look like real representatives of the people.
“We need to reflect the society we are trying to build and be good models for those after us.”
ANC Free State chairman Ace Magashule was elected to a second term as premier.
The traditional photo of the legislature's new members, taken on the steps of the Fourth Raadzaal, did not take place as usual after the event. The photo was rescheduled for next Wednesday. - Sapa