New MPs begin arriving at Parliament

Red-clad members of the EFF have arrived dressed as workmen and domestic workers.

Red-clad members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) arrive at Parliament dressed as workmen and domestic workers on 21 May 2014. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Members of Parliament (MPs) have started arriving in Parliament this morning as the National Assembly holds its first sitting to swear in new members.

Four hundred MPs will be sworn in today.

Red-clad members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have arrived at Parliament dressed as workmen and domestic workers.

The EFF secured 25 seats in the National Assembly and members made quite an entrance when they arrived dressed in red overalls, red berets, hard hats and the uniforms worn by domestic workers.

They sang and danced around the bronze bust of Madiba outside the National Assembly as photographers snapped pictures.

The EFF's Floyd Shivambu says they are sending a message to ordinary South Africans.

"We primarily represent the interests of the working class and the poor in South Africa and we want to assure them that indeed Parliament is a space where they can find expression."

The country's president and the new speaker will also be elected today during the first sitting of Parliament since the national elections.

President Jacob Zuma is expected to be elected for a new five-year term this afternoon.

Should there be another nomination for president, there will be a vote by secret ballot.

Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs said they are prepared for all eventualities.

"We are ready to print out ballot papers and have voting booths at the ready."

This last happened in 2009 when Congress of the People Parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala made a symbolic stand against Zuma and was defeated.

MANTASHE WARNS ANC MPS

While the ANC lost 15 seats in the recent elections, it still has a solid majority of 249 members in the 400-seat National Assembly.

At the same time, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has read the riot act to the party's newly elected and returning MPs.

He said he warned them they would have to work harder because there will be fewer of them.

Mantashe said the MPs were told during their first caucus meeting yesterday what the ANC expected of them.

"The fact that we are 15 seats less means we must work harder."