New Speaker and Deputy Speaker for Western Cape Provincial Parliament
At the first sitting of the Fifth Parliament of the Western Cape that took place on 21 May, the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker were elected. Members voted for their candidate by means of a secret ballot.
John Hlope, Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, presided over the election of the Speaker. The Democratic Alliance (DA) nominated Sharna Fernandez as candidate and the African National Congress nominated Maurencia Gillion. Following the election, Hlope announced Sharna Fernandez as the duly election Speaker.
Sharna Fernandez served a 30-year career working in three of the South Africa’s four big banks. She served as a Regional Manager, Sales and Service Director and Acting General Manager in ABSA’s mortgage division.
In August 2009 she was struck down with the H1N1 virus which forced her to take early retirement in order to restore her health. A recovery period that lasted three years.
Once she regained her strength, Fernandez, started doing community work. She became actively involved in civic matters. She served as chairperson of the local Neighbourhood Watch and participated in various community structures. She joined the DA in May 2011 as an activist. She served three terms as chairperson of the Ward 72 Branch and also one term as the deputy chairperson of the South Peninsula 2 Constituency.
She is passionate about people and serving others. Her personal values are deeply entrenched. Honesty and integrity are values she will not compromise on. She is a leader passionate about human rights, women’s rights and tackling the scourge of substance abuse.
Her experience in the corporate world will assist greatly as she undertakes to keep the Western Cape Provincial Parliament relevant and progressive in terms of the changing times.
With Fernandez presiding over the election of the Deputy Speaker, two nominations were received. The Democratic Alliance nominated Piet Pretorius and the African National Congress nominated Sharon Davids. After a secret ballot, Piet Pretorius was announced as Deputy Speaker.
Pretorius started his career as a teacher at Rondebosch Boys’ High School and then went on to fill a long career in parliamentary administration. In 1997 he was appointed as Secretary to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, a position he held until 2004. He then went on to win a DA seat in the National Assembly following the 2009 general election. In February 2012 he moved to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and was elected Deputy Speaker. Winning a seat in the 2014 general election, he returned to the Provincial Parliament and was re-elected as Deputy Speaker. He holds a masters degree in political science from the University of Stellenbosch.