Cape Town - From former national police commissioner Bheki Cele, in a charcoal grey suit and matching hat, to EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema in a red beret and EFF jacket, incoming MPs queued to register at Parliament on Tuesday.
This meant having personal details and a fingerprint captured, receiving a manual on benefits and perks and getting photographed - some needed a touch-up with make-up - in the parliamentary library-turned photography studio.
Then the parliamentary access cards were issued and while some MPs had lunch, others headed off to various meetings, including the first ANC caucus.
Cele had no problems being fingerprinted. “My fingerprints are all over the world.”
Veteran IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini returned in a wheelchair as he continues to battle terminal cancer.
He said he was happy to be back, quipping it was another chance to see who he could sue. “It all depends on the strength of my body. My mind is strong. I have the mind of a 20-year-old and a body of a 100-year-old.”
New DA parliamentarian Makashule Gana, one of the party’s three deputy federal chairpersons, cruised through the process. “It’s the responsibility that excites me - not only the responsibility to the four million who voted for us, but everyone in South Africa. I accept this responsibility with both hands.”
But there was little comment on the DA parliamentary leadership race for which he reportedly is standing.
“I firmly believe members must ask you to stand. I’m not in Cape Town, saying ‘look at me, I’m a leader’,” Gana said.
DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane reportedly was similarly reluctant to comment on this looming matter for which many say he is a shoo-in because of his reported backing from DA leader Helen Zille.
At the registration points the mood was jovial, with many returning MPs greeting each other. Bodyguards milled around as ministers, who are back on the list of MPs, registered themselves.
Parliamentary staff were on hand to welcome and direct everyone.
It was hoped all 400 incoming MPs would have gone through the system by Tuesday night. However, stragglers would have up until an hour before Wednesday morning’s swearing-in ceremony to get themselves registered.
Meanwhile, the ANC announced on Tuesday that Baleka Mbete returns as Speaker of the National Assembly, a post she left after four years to become deputy president in late 2008 under then president Kgalema Motlanthe.
Her return as National Assembly presiding officer is politically important: for the first time since 2007 a Speaker will also hold a top ANC party office as Mbete remains as the governing party’s national chairwoman.
Following the first ANC parliamentary caucus meeting on Tuesday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe also announced Mbete’s deputy would be Lechesa Tsenoli, who previously served as co-operative governance minister.
And he announced Reserve Bank governor and ex-labour minister Tito Mboweni looks set to remain in business since he’s withdrawn from taking up his parliamentary seat, apparently at the 11th hour.
Mboweni, whose election to the ANC national executive committee in 2012 was widely seen as a return to the political and governance arena, more recently was speculated to be in the running to become finance minister.
On Tuesday, Mantashe confirmed that Mboweni had officially informed the party of his withdrawal, but declined to give reasons.