Some of the things that give Parliament its own specific flavour, are some of the characters involved – those members who stand out from the crowd. The sixth Parliament will, of course, have its own flavour, and it will be different from the fifth, as some of its spicier MPs won’t make it back, but there will also arrive some new characters.
Who won’t make it back
Andries Tlouamma (Agang)
Being Agang’s sole MP in the National Assembly (despite the party having won two seats in 2014), Tlouamma made his mark during debates in the National Assembly, delivering colourful speeches laced with unique metaphors, and scathing one-liners. Often he had to withdraw most of his speech.
“This motion is a laxative to those who are mentally constipated by state capture,” he said during a debate on state capture in 2017. “The Zuma presidency has become a Berlin Wall against transparency and accountability.”
Tlouamma brought one of the several motions of no confidence in former president Jacob Zuma but wanted to withdraw it when Speaker Baleka Mbete didn’t recuse herself from presiding over the debate.
Towards the end of last year, he became involved in a brawl with EFF MP Nazier Paulsen. While Paulsen boxes for sport, word on the parliamentary streets was Tlouamma had the better of the exchange.
Agang did not garner enough votes in this election to ensure that Tlouamma’s eccentric contributions will be a part of the debates in the sixth Parliament.
Dancin’ David Maynier (DA)
Maynier was – after his chief whip John Steenhuisen – responsible for delivering the most interjections in the fifth parliamentary term. But he was also often on the receiving end.
He had the habit of swaying behind the podium creating the impression that he is dancing while delivering a speech. Chuckling ANC MPs would then rise on “points of order”, asking the presiding officer if it was parliamentary for the honourable member to dance during the debate.
It was also Maynier who asked then-president Jacob Zuma to name the nine points of his nine-point plan for the economy during a question session, which the hapless former president couldn’t do. Zuma, a song and dance man himself, often grinningly referred to Maynier as “my friend”.
Maynier was also asked to leave the house on at least two occasions, once when he refused to withdraw that deputy minister Kebby Maphatsoe was an “idiot“, and another time when he refused to withdraw that Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet at the behest of the Guptas.
Maynier will be heading to the Western Cape legislature, where he is touted to become a MEC, albeit that Western Cape premier-elect Alan Winde has been very tight-lipped about his cabinet thus far.
Comrade Themba Godi (APC)
Godi was the APC’s only MP in the fifth Parliament and had the responsibility to chair the important Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). This was one of the few committees of the fifth term that took its oversight seriously, and Godi played no small part in this. He fostered good working relations among the different parties’ members on the committee.
Seldom seen without a smile, Godi would greet virtually everyone who crossed his path as “comrade”. But don’t think his friendly demeanour meant that you could dodge questions in Scopa. Several public servants found this out the hard way.
The APC didn’t attract enough voters this time around to keep their seat.
Munzoor Shaik-Emam (NFP)
“Shaik! Shaaaaaiiiik!” ANC parliamentarians would chant – in the same way they chant Ace Magashule’s name – when Shaik-Emam approached the podium, while the DA MPs would make sucking noises.
If you didn’t pay close attention as to who was speaking during one of his speeches, you could easily be put under the impression that an ANC MP was at the podium. His speeches mostly focused on sharply lambasting the DA.
The NFP only won two seats in this election, and Shaik-Emam wasn’t high enough on the list to be one of them. Some cynics would have looked for his name on the ANC lists as well (it wasn’t there, by the way).
Joan Fubbs (ANC)
The blue Morris Minor – polished to a high sheen – won’t be parked on the parliamentary precinct anymore.
During her passionately delivered speeches, no matter how mundane the topic, Fubbs showcased a flair for the dramatic and a large vocabulary – she has published two volumes of poetry, after all.
A staunch Marxist, Fubbs chaired the portfolio committee and championed the National Credit Amendment Bill, which seeks to address the plight of the poor and low-income workers who are over-indebted. The committee took the unusual step to introduce the bill itself.
When this reporter attended a committee meeting chaired by Fubbs for the first time, he was astonished when she seemed genuinely disappointed that some opposition members couldn’t attend and deliver their input to the matter at hand. This was at a time – 2015 – when things in most committees could get rather tense between the governing party and the opposition, to put it mildly.
She wasn’t on the ANC’s list for this election.
The new blood
Back in those crazy days of 2015, #FeesMustFall-students busted through Parliament’s gates while then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene delivered his medium-term budget. Come 2019, and some Fallists took the more traditional approach to enter Parliament – getting elected.
Among the 44 EFF MPs who will be sworn in on Wednesday, is prominent #FeesMustFall-leaders Naledi Chirwa, Vuyani Pambo and Peter Keetse. Keetse is also the leader of the EFF’s student command.
One of the iconic images of the #FeesMustFall movement was a young woman with an ANC-doek and a fist in the air at the forefront of a march. That young woman is Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, and she will be among the ANC politicians sworn in.
Among the 10 FF Plus MPs elected to the National Assembly is Wynand Boshoff, son of Orania founder Carel Boshoff and FF Plus leader in the Northern Cape. His grandfather is former apartheid-president HF Verwoerd. This has already raised some eyebrows.
Meanwhile, at least one EFF MP – Marshall Dlamini, he of flaying opening palms and klaps – is asking for a signal from Mama on how to welcome Boshoff.
Also, for the first time in the 25 years it had representation in Parliament, the FF Plus will have female members, at a whopping 20% of its caucus. It remains to be seen whether the FF Plus MPs will shout “Malibongwe!” when one of its female members approach the podium, as is the habit in the ANC benches.
While the EFF brought a star from the silver screen – Fana Mokoena – to the fifth Parliament, their entertainment command will be expanded in the sixth term with the addition of singer Ringo Madlingozi. He has publicly stated that he will fight for the rights of musicians.
It is unknown if he drew inspiration from the Beastie Boys, who said: “You gotta fight! For your right! To paaaaaarty!”
GOOD leader Patricia de Lille is no stranger to the National Assembly. She served there for the PAC, and later the Independent Democrats from 1994 until 2010. During that time, she famously blew the lid of the arms deal.
With GOOD having won two seats in the past election, she will return, after having spent some time as Cape Town’s mayor for the DA, which she has taken to calling “a bunch of blue liars” after her acrimonious departure from the party.
Being the biggest opposition party, the DA will sit close to the podium when De Lille delivers her speeches in the house, and there will surely be a word or two sneered in her direction. But Aunty Pat is no shrinking violet herself. This is should be, uhm, good fun.