Lydia Johnson

Former KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture MEC Lydia Johnson was elected as Speaker of the provincial legislature on Tuesday. She replaces Peggy Nkonyeni who was appointed to the position of education MEC on Tuesday .

Before the election of the new Speaker, members of the DA caucus walked out of the legislature in protest. They claimed that the office of the Speaker has previously shown bias in favour of the ruling party.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala slammed the DA, saying its actions were irresponsible and undermined democratic processes.

The IFP, the official opposition in the province, also decided not to take part in the process of electing the Speaker, saying that it had been given little time to make nominations.

IFP whip Mntomuhle Khawula said his party only received the nomination form at 5pm on Monday. This had to be submitted to the legislature at 9am the following morning.

This left Johnson as the only nominee and she was declared Speaker by KZN Judge president Chiman Patel, who presided over the proceedings.

Johnson was axed in 2011 as Agriculture MEC by the then premier Zweli Mkhize, after serving only two years in office.

After that he held the position of chairman of committee or chair of chairs. Taking over in this position is ANC senior member Sipho Gcabashe.

* Meanwhile, Alpha Shelembe, the chairman in Moses Mabhida (greater Pietermaritzburg) region has been named as the newest member of the ANC caucus in the legislature.

Shelembe fills the vacancy left by Mkhize, who resigned to take up his position as the ANC’s treasurer general.

He was elected deputy mayor of Msunduzi after the 2011 local government elections, but he was forced to resign after protests by ANC members.

[email protected]