"The chief justice earlier presided over the swearing-in ceremony of the 400 new members of parliament representing 13 political parties."
Pretoria, May 21 - African National Congress (ANC) chairperson Baleka Mbete was Wednesday elected the speaker at the first sitting of South African parliament, the media reported.

Mbete, who replaced Max Sisulu, was nominated along with Democratic Alliance's Nosimo Bhalendlela. He won by 260 votes, SA News reported citing an announcement by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who presided over the session.

Bhalindlela received 80 votes of the 366 votes counted. There were 18 invalid votes.

Since there was more than one nomination, the floor of the National Assembly was turned into a voting station, complete with booths, ballot boxes and a secret ballot.

Mbete was the speaker from 2005-08. She has also served as the country's deputy president after the recall of Thabo Mbeki in 2008.

She has been described by MPs, who worked with her, as strong, capable and effective.

Mbete said she was humbled by her appointment and said she will carry her tasks conscious of the constitution. Your trust in me has not been misplaced, she said.

Mbete also welcomed new members to the house, saying more than half had not served in the previous parliament.

She reminded them of their mandate of serving the people who voted for them.

After 20 years of democracy, we dare not fail our people. Let us further entrench the spirit of democracy. Let each one of us represent our people with dignity and honour.

She also paid tribute to the outgoing speaker and deputy.

Former cooperative governance minister Lechesa Tsenoli was elected as deputy.

The chief justice earlier presided over the swearing-in ceremony of the 400 new members of parliament representing 13 political parties.

The election of the 400 members of the National Assembly will be followed by that of new MPs in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Thursday. A total of 54 permanent delegates of the NCOP will be sworn in.


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