Post SONA debate day 2: Insults fly as tempers reach boiling point

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 18, 2016

Proceedings on the second day of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in Parliament on Wednesday, descended into chaos when Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, was told to leave the chamber for the using the word rubbish.

Rising on a point of order after Deputy Chairperson Raseriti Tau had ruled Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota out of order for describing MP’s as factions, a visibly angry Steenhuisen accused him of restricting members’ freedom of speech in the House, and that he was unfit to hold position.

“There is nothing unparliamentarily about the word faction. Every time you are in that chair, this house degenerates. You have no control,” Steenhuisen shouted.

Tau’s explanation for the ruling was swiftly ignored with Steenhuisen saying, “You are talking complete rubbish and making this House a joke. How dare you infringe on his rights to speak”.

A war of words erupted with DA leader Mmusi Maimane accusing Tau of double standards. With Steenhuisen refusing to withdraw the remark, Tau ordered him to leave, again resulting in Maimane jumping up.

“We cannot have biased rulings. Many comments have been made in this House. Can we ask that you be excused from the chair,” Maimane said as DA MP’s started chanting “go go go”.

With various MP’s trying to raise points of order, Tau ordered DA MP’s to leave the chamber, with ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani stating Maimane to be behind the chaos.

“He questioned your ruling, fully knowing that there are procedures that guide the House and everybody. He agitated them to behave like they did and he must leave,” Sizani said.

A number of other opposition MP’s then jumped to the party’s defence, with the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, also accusing Tau of double standards.

“Honourable Lekota made a political statement. There was nothing unparliamentarily about it. Only a few DA members were chanting, you could not identify which ones were, and now you want them all to leave the House”.

DA Shadow Minister of Health Wilmot James then called on Tau to withdraw both rulings on faction and rubbish, a request he denied before calling on to Lekota to continue the debate.

A short while later, DA National Council of Provinces Gauteng member Jacques Julius, accused Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Sisulu “of being loaded with cash mostly to corruption”, resulting in her rising.

“This is not true. You are taking absolute rubbish,” she said, causing wide-spread objections from DA MP’s following Steenhuisen’s dismissal.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi then stood up to enquire whether Julius’ reference to “that man”, was directed at Zuma. Julius however stated he had forgotten, saying Tau should consult the Hansard recordings to determine if he indeed did.

“It's been an emotional time chair, so long ago, I might have, I might not have, please check Hansard,” he said, resulting in DA Deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters again asking Tau to refer to Hansard.

Seconds later, more objections followed after Julius had stated that a “political dwarf” had been grown in one week. He subsequently withdrew the remark having claimed it to be an expression.

Insults continued to be hurled throughout the sitting with Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane being accused of repeating the word “bullsh*t* used by a DA MP, who claimed he said bushes.

Her referring to another MP as “n verkrampte” then caused Steenhuisen, who had reportedly apologised and returned to his seat, to rise on a point of order.

“I was asked to withdrew the word rubbish and would like to know whether the word bullsh*t is parliamentary,” he said, with Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli calling for members to refrain from using unparliamentarily language.

“It is incorrect for you to throw insults at each other,” he said, with Steenhuisen again rising to ask that she withdraws referring to the MP as “n verkrampte”.

Mokonyane then labelled Lekota a “dead man walking” and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema a “headless chicken” after the party disrupted Zuma’s SONA and walked out of the first round of debates on Wednesday.

Earlier, tensions became strained after Sizani, rising on a point of order, referred to Cope MP Deidre Carter as a madam, leading her to exclaim, “I am not a madam. I don’t run a brothel”.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson also ruffled feathers when she described Malema as a “juvenile delinquent”, while Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, took aim at Maimane’s comments that Zuma has resorted to live on Planet Zuma, saying, “They (DA) live on a planet of their own making, where their leader composes fairy tales full of monsters that are a figment of his imagination”.

Zuma is expected to make his response this afternoon.

 

CAPTION: Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip John Steenhuisen points to Deputy Chairperson Raseriti Tau moments before being told to leave Parliament on the second day of debating President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address IMAGE sourded from Parliament of South Africa YouTube