National Assembly Elects Ms Thoko Didiza as NA Speaker and Dr Annelie Lotriet as Deputy Speaker

National Assembly Elects Ms Thoko Didiza as NA Speaker and Dr Annelie Lotriet as Deputy Speaker

Parliament, Friday, 14 June 2024 – The first sitting of the National Assembly (NA) today elected Ms. Thokozile Didiza as NA Speaker and Dr. Annelie Lotriet as the Deputy Speaker.

Two candidates, Ms. Thoko Didiza and Ms. Veronica Mente, were nominated for the position of Speaker. Ms. Mente received 49 votes, while Ms. Didiza was elected with 284 votes.

Ms. Didiza was the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development during the Sixth Parliament. She was first elected to Parliament in 1994 and was the first woman Deputy Minister of Agriculture from 1994 until 1999.

She served as the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 1999 until 2004 and continued in her position as the Minister of Land Affairs and Agriculture from 2004 until 2006. She was appointed as Minister of Public Works in 2006 and served in this position until 2008. Previously Ms Didiza served as National Assembly House Chairperson for Internal Arrangements and as Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution.

Before becoming a Member of Parliament, Ms. Didiza worked in several organizations in various capacities, including as the secretary-general of the Women’s National Coalition that produced the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality, which was tabled in the First Parliament. Ms. Didiza holds, among others, a BA degree majoring in sociology and politics and an Honours Degree in politics.

The Speaker is the political head of Assembly and has the responsibility to preside over the sittings of the House, its internal committees (such as NA Rules Committee and NA Programming Committee), exercise executive authority, provide strategic direction, and ensure the House effectively discharges its constitutional functions.

Dr. Lotriet – a Member of the Democratic Alliance – was elected Deputy Speaker by 273 votes against Mr. Vuyolwethu Zungula, who received 54 votes votes.

Dr. Lotriet joined Parliament in 2009 and served as DA Shadow Minister of Arts and Culture, Higher Education and Training, and Science and Technology. She also served as the Deputy Whip of the DA in the National Assembly.

She obtained several degrees – a BA in Languages, Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education, B.Ed, M.Ed, D.Ed, and an LLB from Unisa. Following a career in academia, she ventured into politics and became a DA ward councillor in Mangaung in 2000.

According to the Assembly Rules, whenever the Speaker is absent or unable to perform the functions of his or her office, or when that office is vacant, the Deputy Speaker must act as Speaker. The Deputy Speaker presides over a sitting of the House whenever requested to do so. She also presides over the meetings of the Rules Committee and Programme Committee when the Speaker is absent or when requested to do so.

Similarly, he or she co-chairs with the Chairperson of the Council meetings of the Joint Programme Committee, Joint Rules Committee, and the Joint Tagging Mechanism when the Speaker is absent. Under NA Rule 217, he or she is the Chairperson of the Assembly Disciplinary Committee. The Speaker may delegate other functions to the Deputy Speaker.


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