African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentarians sang and danced in the aisles of the National Assembly on Wednesday as they prepared to celebrate the confirmation of party leader Jacob Zuma as President of South Africa.
At one point during a break in the sitting, the oval in the centre of the assembly turned into a dance floor as ANC Members of Parliament (MPs) sang songs in praise of "Msholozi", as Zuma was widely known.
Zuma, who would be inaugurated in Pretoria on Saturday, won the vote by 277 to 47 for Mvume Dandala, the Presidential candidate for the ANC breakaway party the Congress of the People (Cope). The Democratic Alliance abstained from the vote.
ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who shared a front row seat in the National Assembly with Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, was greeted with cheers and ululation when she announced Zuma's nomination as President.
"Many names and descriptions have been used to characterise him and the bookshelves have not witnessed the last of perspectives about him," Madikizela-Mandela said.
"I would simply say he is a capable leader that epitomises our continued and resilient struggle against the worst that humanity has to offer, and the hope that we as a nation shall triumph against all odds because of the best that collectively we can offer."
Zuma sat quietly as the assembly and guests in the packed gallery above chanted and sang his praises.
Members of the opposition parties chatted among themselves and watched and listened to the singing and dancing without emotion.
In contrast, Cope MPs were booed and jeered each time they were mentioned in the Assembly.
Cope deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa was heckled and shouted down as he announced that the party would nominate Dandala as their candidate to stand against Zuma.
ANC MPs then made gnarling sounds and catlike "meows" as Cope's second deputy president Lynda Odendaal walked to the centre of the assembly to cast her ballot.
"The language you use here is strange to me," Chief Justice Pius Langa, the presiding officer, said in reaction to a complaint from an opposition MP.
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga was quick to respond.
"We agree that the language used is unparliamentary," he said.
Former ANC spokesperson and now Cope MP, Smuts Ngonyama, smirked as he was jeered and booed while making his way to cast his ballot.
"I did expect that we would receive a different reception," Ngonyama said outside afterwards.
"We expect that in a vibrant democracy. But we started Cope with conviction and resolve to make sure the ruling party is challenged and to make sure that we have a stronger democracy."
It was strange, he said, to be up against his former colleagues.
"It did feel strange. But we are determined to build strong debate in Parliament."
The four-month-old party secured 30 seats in the house. Party president Terror Lekota would, however, not be among its new MPs - after days of confusion he opted to remain at party headquarters in Johannesburg.
Other Cope MPs included former Congress of South African Trade Unions president Willie Madisha, Odendaal and former South African Communist Party (SACP) treasurer Philip Dexter.
The National Assembly's new MPs were sworn in by Langa in groups of ten under the watchful gaze of VIPs and guests filling the public galleries above.
Zuma, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Madikizela-Mandela and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande were among the first to raise their right hands and accept their seats in the Assembly. Education Minister Naledi Pandor rounded off the first ten.
Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya was not among the ANC MPs who took the oath. The party announced on Wednesday that he has resigned his seat for health reasons.