On 10 May 2004 two former Presidents – Nelson Mandela (“Madiba”) and F W De Klerk – addressed a Joint Sitting of Parliament in the National Assembly Chamber at Parliament in Cape Town as part of the official celebrations of a Decade of Freedom and Democracy. It was 10 years to the day since Madiba’s inauguration as the first President of a democratic country, replacing F W De Klerk. It was an historic event to mark 10 extraordinary years!
The photograph depicts myself in my ceremonial role as Sergeant-at-Arms with the old Mace (the symbol of authority of the Speaker) leading out the official procession at the adjournment of the Joint Sitting. (A new Mace was introduced later in 2004).
In the background Madiba and F W De Klerk are busy talking to members of the National Council of Provinces. To the right of FW De Klerk stands NCOP (National Council of Provinces) Deputy Chairperson, Mr M J Mahlangu. To the left of Madiba is the then Secretary to Parliament, Mr S Mfenuyana, wearing a white bow tie. Following behind me in the procession is the Usher of the Black Rod (NCOP), Mr Vincent Shabalala (obscured), Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, and the then Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms Joyce Kgoali.
At the Secretariat’s desk at the podium from left to right sits Mr Kasper Hahndiek, then Secretary of the National Assembly, Ms Lulu Matyolo, then Secretary to the NCOP, Mr Michael Coetzee, Deputy Secretary to Parliament and leaning over chatting to him, Dr Alexander Stander, Head of Parliamentary Protocol.
Madiba and De Klerk also unveiled in the Chamber, a replica of a plaque to commemorate the occasion. The original plaque now stands outside at the bottom of the National Assembly steps.
Madiba made the following statement on this occasion, “We are aware, Madam Speaker, that an exception to the Standing Rules had to be made in order to allow a retired old pensioner, who is neither a Member of Parliament nor the serving head of state of any country to address you. That all parties represented in Parliament unanimously consented to this extraordinary departure from the Rules touches us, not only for the honour it pays us, but also for the spirit of our nation that it speaks of.”
It was indeed a great honour for me to have led the ceremonial procession on this historical occasion. It was also an additional bonus for me, as I will always treasure the memories of leading Madiba’s first ceremonial procession into the National Assembly Chamber in 1994, and the honour of leading his last procession out of the Chamber on his retirement in 1999.
Quote: "I will always treasure the memories of leading Madiba’s first ceremonial procession into the National Assembly."