South Africa: New parliament begins life as MPs are sworn in

The session kicked off with a call for meditation on national challenges, with Chief Justice Mogoeng urging members to think of solutions to issues derailing the country including the upsurge in crime and graft cases.

“It is time for prayer or meditation. I just thought we needed to be purposeful in embarking on this exercise; I never used to know what to meditate or pray about. Our country has challenges – meditate about the solutions about the solutions to corruption, crime, and to anything of concern that you have,” he remarked.

Mogoeng told members to seek divine intervention to enable them steer the nation in the right direction.

He said the country’s challenges needed visionary leaders who were willing to take bold decisions against ills facing the nation.

“For those who can pray; pray for solutions, pray for a better vision, for guidance. Let us be very deliberate and intentional about this exercise. It is not a meaningless ritual,” Mogoeng told the newly -constituted House.

The governing African National Congress has 230 representatives in the House making the post-apartheid formation the party with the largest number of lawmakers in the 400-member Assembly followed by the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters with 84 and 44 members respectively.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa was among those who took oath on Wednesday.

National Assembly members are elected through a party-list proportional representation system.

The 400 National Assembly seats are distributed to parties depending on the number of votes they garnered in an election through an elaborate quota formula.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa divides the number of valid votes cast by the number of available seats to determine the number of votes a party needs for a single seat.

In 2014 for instance, a party needed 45,000 votes for a single seat in the House.

An extra seat is added to a party with the highest number of left-over votes after diving the votes it garnered by the set quota.

ANC’s influence in South Africa has for four successive electoral cycles eroded with the number of National Assembly seats the party has laid claim to following the May poll falling to 230 from 249 in 2014.

The party had 264 seats in 2009 and 297 in 2007.

EFF’s influence has significantly increased since the party was founded in July 2013 by former ANC youth wingers led by Julius Malema.

The party secured 44 seats up from 25 in 2014 after garnering 1,881,521 votes (11%) against ANC’s 10,026,475 (58%) and DA’s 3,621,188 (21%).

The DA, under Mmusi Maimane, lost some ground with the number of seats allocated to it falling from 89 in 2014 to 84.


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