Former South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been elected as Speaker of the National Assembly (NA).
The election on Thursday, which was presided over by a high court judge president John Hlophe at Parliament, took place after President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month appointed then Speaker Thandi Modise as Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, who held the position since 2019, reports Xinhua news agency.
Ramaphosa at the time said Mapisa-Nqakula will be deployed to a new position.
Mapisa-Nqakula, from the governing party and the largest party in the parliament, the African National Congress (ANC), beat her only rival candidate Annelie Lotriet from Parliament’s second-largest party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) by 199 votes to 82 votes from the NA members by secret ballot.
During the last general election, ANC took 230 seats, or 57.50 per cent of the total 400 seats in the NA, and DA came in second with 84 seats, or 20.77 per cent of the total seats.
Shortly after the announcement of the result, Mapisa-Nqakula, in her first address as Speaker, highlighted the importance of all three branches of the state to function in a collaborative manner while exercising their respective functions and roles without impediment.
She also said that she expects better collaboration between parties especially in advancing issues affecting national interests.
As the fifth female Speaker of the NA since the first democratic general election in 1994, the seasoned legislator said her election demonstrates confidence that South Africa has showed in women leadership and their abilities, which also makes an important statement about the country’s commitment to the struggle for the advancement of women and defeating partiality in its society.
Born in 1956 in Eastern Cape Province, Mapisa-Nqakula has been serving as a member of the parliament since 1999.
From 2002, she held various senior positions in the government, including Deputy Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Correctional Services, before holding the post of Minister of Defence and Military Veterans in 2012.
The NA Speaker has the responsibility of providing political leadership and strategic direction to the Assembly and exercising impartiality in carrying out these duties.