Cape Town - Proceedings in the National Assembly slowed down considerably on Wednesday after the Democratic Alliance proposed its own candidate to challenge the ANC's Baleka Mbete for the position of Speaker.
The DA forced a secret ballot by nominating former Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela to challenge Mbete.
While MPS from the African National Congress and opposition parties appeared eager to vote, the Economic Freedom Fighters abstained.
Members of the ruling party looked expectantly to EFF leader Julius Malema when his name was called out to vote.
Malema did not get up to fetch his ballot paper. Instead he shook his head, indicating he was not participating in the vote.
Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder rose on a point of order, saying parliamentary rules state MPs “must” vote.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng later indicated that “must” should be interpreted as “may”, as no one could be forced to vote.
There was raucous laughter in the House when Mulder replied: “I hope when it comes to our taxes to be paid that 'must' will mean 'may'.”
President Jacob Zuma was the last to vote after MPs were called up in alphabetical order.
More laugher followed when Zuma clasped his hands and bowed in front of Malema when he placed his voting slip in the ballot box. Malema remained seated but bowed in similar fashion to Zuma.
The ANC is expected to nominate outgoing co-operative governance minister Lechesa Tsenoli for the position of deputy speaker.
It remains unclear whether the opposition will nominate one of its own for this position, and force another secret ballot.
Following the 2009 elections, former speaker Max Sisulu and his former deputy Nomaindia Mfeketo were elected to their positions unopposed. - Sapa