Baleka Mbete

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Baleka Mbete
Speaker of the National Assembly
Assumed office
21 May 2014
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Max Sisulu
In office
23 April 2004 – 25 September 2008
President Thabo Mbeki
Preceded by Frene Ginwala
Succeeded by Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
Deputy President of South Africa
In office
25 September 2008 – 9 May 2009
President Kgalema Motlanthe
Preceded by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe
Personal details
Born (1949-09-24) 24 September 1949 (age 67)
Transvaal, South Africa
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Keorapetse Kgositsile (Divorced)
Nape Khomo
Alma mater Eshowe Training College
Lovedale Teacher Training College

Baleka Mbete (born 24 September 1949) is a South African politician who is Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa since 21 May 2014. Previously she was Speaker of the National Assembly from 2004 to 2008 and Deputy President of South Africa from 2008 to 2009 under Kgalema Motlanthe. She was elected National Chairperson of the African National Congress in 2007 and re-elected in 2012.[1]

Mbete is the ex-wife of poet and activist Keorapetse Kgositsile.[2]

Early life[edit]

After going into exile in 1976,[2] Mbete taught in Mbabane in Swaziland, and went on to work for the African National Congress (ANC) in several other African cities, including Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi in Kenya, Gaborone in Botswana, Harare in Zimbabwe, and Lusaka in Zambia. She returned to South Africa from exile in June 1990.[3]

In the ANC government[edit]

Soon after her return, Mbete was elected the secretary-general of ANC Women's League, serving in this position from 1991 to 1993. She was elected as an MP for the ANC in 1994, and was appointed chair of the ANC parliamentary caucus in 1995,[4] and was the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa from 1996 to 2004. Mbete was also a member of the Presidential Panel on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the ANC National Executive Committee,[5] and the Pan-African Parliament.

From April 2004, Mbete became the Speaker of the National Assembly. On 18 December 2007, at the 52nd National Elective Conference of the ANC held in Polokwane, Mbete was elected as the ANC's national chairperson.[2][6]

Deputy President[edit]

On 20 September 2008, the African National Congress formally asked President Thabo Mbeki to resign as President of South Africa. Mbete, as Speaker of Parliament, accepted Mbeki's resignation on 21 September. It had been speculated that Mbete would succeed Mbeki as President, which would have made her the first female head of state in South Africa's history; however, the ANC announced that Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President of the ANC, would assume that position. On 23 September, Mbete was announced by the SABC as the most likely candidate for Deputy President of South Africa following Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's resignation from the position.[7] On 25 September 2008, she was appointed by Motlanthe as Deputy President.[8] On 10 May 2009 she was replaced as Deputy President by incoming President Jacob Zuma, who elected to appoint Motlanthe as his deputy.[1]

Baleka Mbete meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 2006 visit to South Africa.

Speaker of the National Assembly[edit]

On 20 May 2014, Mbete was nominated for the position of Speaker of the National Assembly for a second time. She was elected unanimously on 21 May, beating her rival DA candidate and former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela. On 10 September 2014, five opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, stated that they planned to submit a motion of no confidence in Mbete, and claimed that she could not simultaneously serve as chairwoman of the ANC and as Speaker of the National Assembly. A debate held in Parliament on 16 September resulted in the motion being rejected by 234 votes to none. This was a result of opposition parties collectively walking out of the house after the ANC tried to change the vote into one of confidence in Mbete instead.[9][10] Mbete has faced accusations, over the course of several years, that she is biased in favour of the ANC and a puppet of President Zuma.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] In March 2016, the Constitutional Court held, in Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly, that the National Assembly under Mbete's stewardship had breached the South African Constitution by undermining rather than implementing the Public Protector's Nkandla report.

As speaker of the national assembly Mbete was paid R2‚716‚798 (equivalent to US$ 170,000) a year as of April 2015 making her the highest paid member of the South African Parliament at the time.[19]

Other controversies[edit]

In April 1997, Mbete was found to have received an improperly issued driver's license but not charged with any wrongdoing.[20] This was after investigators uncovered widespread corruption in Mpumalanga's driving license testing centre.[21] Mbete said that she had been "too busy" to stand in queues.[22]

In 2006, Mbete chartered a jet at a cost of R471,900 (around $60,000) to fly to Liberia for the inauguration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president. The only other passenger on the plane was a member of her staff. Then president Thabo Mbeki and foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also travelled to the inauguration – Mbeki in his private plane and Dlamini-Zuma by commercial flight.[23]

Mbete has been a staunch supporter of Tony Yengeni, a former ANC Chief Whip in parliament, who was convicted of defrauding parliament in 2004, even accompanying Yengeni to Pollsmoor Prison when he reported to serve his sentence.[24]

Mbete's links to business have also been questioned. She and provincial secretary of the ANC in the Northern Cape Dr K M Seimelo are shareholders in Dyambu Holdings,[25] which is involved in building the massive Gautrain public transport project in the province Gauteng. Dyambu Holdings is reported to have had links with slain magnate Brett Kebble.[26] In 2010, she was implicated in a R25 million Gold Fields bribe under the guise of a "BEE" transaction by US investigators.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Biography: Baleka Mbete" Archived 3 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine., African National Congress.
  2. ^ a b c "Baleka Mbete", Incwajana.
  3. ^ "Baleka Mbete-Kgositsile", South African History online.
  4. ^ Jenny Percival, "Baleka Mbete profile", The Guardian, 19 September 2008.
  5. ^ "National Executive Committee as elected at 51st national conference". ANC. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  6. ^ "Results for the election of ANC officials". ANC. Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  7. ^ ''Mbete to be appointed interim deputy president''. Sabcnews.com. Retrieved 8 October 2012. Archived 5 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "South Africa: New President Removes Health Minister", allAfrica.com, 25 September 2008.
  9. ^ "Mbete motion defeated after opposition walkout". news24. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Opposition unites to say Baleka Mbete must go". Times Live. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Mbete vows to protect Parliament". IOL. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  12. ^ Stone, Setumo (17 February 2015). "Mbete’s incendiary remarks reveals bias and paranoia". The Dispatch. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-11. 
  13. ^ Makhanya, Mondli (14 February 2016). "Baleka Mbete, a crime scene cleaner". CityPress. Retrieved 2016-04-11. 
  14. ^ SAPA (22 March 2015). "Parliament denies accusations of bias". IOL. Retrieved 2016-04-11. 
  15. ^ Zuma, President Jacob; GCIS, Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete Picture:. "'Mbete shielded president from R4bn jet issue'". Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  16. ^ Ackroyd, Bianca. "WATCH: 'Step Aside Mbete' Demands Opposition". www.enca.com. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  17. ^ "The World According to Baleka: Making up rules for Parliament". www.dailymaverick.co.za. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  18. ^ Makinana, Andisiwe. "Baleka Mbete's parly position brings the House down". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  19. ^ "Malema earns R1‚222‚606 a year - MPs salaries revealed". Times Live. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  20. ^ Accountable to Themselves: Predominance in Southern Africa. Kenneth Good. The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4 (December 1997), pp. 547–573.
  21. ^ "Global Integrity – South Africa Timeline". Global Integrity. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. 
  22. ^ Wines, Michael (29 October 2007). "Driven insane in South Africa". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved September 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  23. ^ Dawes, Nic (24 March 2006). "Now the speaker joins the jet set". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  24. ^ Jurgens, André; Ndivhuho Mafela and Philani Nombembe (27 August 2006). "Jailed Yengeni shows no remorse". The Times. Archived from the original on 23 November 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  25. ^ Mudzuli, Kennedy (27 November 2006). ""Gravy train" elite slated". The Citizen. Retrieved 21 August 2008. [permanent dead link]
  26. ^ wa ka Ngobeni, Wisani; Dominic Mahlangu and Dumisane Lubisi (6 March 2007). "A finger in all the right pies". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  27. ^ McKune, Craig (6 September 2013). "Investigators: 'Gold Fields bribed Mbete'". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Frene Ginwala
Speaker of the National Assembly
2004–2008
Succeeded by
Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
Preceded by
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Deputy President of South Africa
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Kgalema Motlanthe
Preceded by
Max Sisulu
Speaker of the National Assembly
2014–present
Incumbent