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Malema and Steenhuisen leave National Assembly, refuse to withdraw remarks

8th November 2018 BY: News24Wire
DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen
Photo by: Creamer Media
DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen

Both Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip John Steenhuisen and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema left the National Assembly chamber on Wednesday after refusing to withdraw remarks they made to each other during Tuesday's violent sitting.

House chairperson Thoko Didiza, who was the presiding officer when the chaos erupted on Tuesday, delivered her rulings on several transgressions at the end of Wednesday's sitting.

She ruled that Steenhuisen's remark that "the VBS looters" should allow him to finish speaking, was directed at Malema and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi individually and not at the EFF as a party. The remark was therefore unparliamentary and she asked Steenhuisen to withdraw the remark.

"It is wrong in legal precedent, parliamentary precedent and the previous ruling by honourable [House chairperson Cedrick] Frolick," Steenhuisen said.

"I will not withdraw."

Didiza said it was different to Frolick's ruling because he never made any reference to the party, but to individual members. Steenhuisen was asked to leave the House, which he did.

She then turned to Malema, who called Steenhuisen a "racist young white man who was accused of rape".

She said it was never allowed to call another member racist. To accuse another member of a "heinous" crime such as rape was also unparliamentary.

"Your remarks were derogatory," she said and asked Malema to withdraw it.

Malema stood up and said: "He is a racist young boy."

"He is sitting among many rapists."

Didiza also asked him to leave and he left with the rest of the EFF members in tow.

When they got to the door, EFF MPs Godrich Gardee and Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi became embroiled in a finger-wagging contest with DA MP Ken Robertson.

Didiza said she would refer all three of them to the disciplinary committee.

"We cannot proceed in this manner in this House," she said sternly.

She then turned to the fracas where Agang's Andries Tlouamma was attacked by EFF MP Nazier Paulsen after swearing at EFF MPs.

When Tlouamma raised a point of order, saying that it could not be allowed that white members were not allowed to speak, something was thrown at him from the EFF's direction and he was later drowned out by the red berets.

"An expletive, specifically an F-word, was then uttered by honourable Tlouamma," Didiza said.

Paulsen then jumped over some benches to fling himself at Tlouamma and a scuffle broke out.

Didiza said she referred Tlouamma and Paulsen, and other members who entered the fray to Parliament's disciplinary committee.

She described the incident as "grossly disorderly conduct" and "both unparliamentary and undemocratic".

She said she wanted to remind the "honourable members" that their conduct was seen by their families.

"Sometimes these things hurt our families and those that we love," she said.

Earlier, at the start of Wednesday's sitting, Speaker Baleka Mbete described the previous day's events as "unfortunate, unacceptable and outrageous".

"Honourable members, before we proceed to questions I would like to state that our rules, practices and conventions all have a singular purpose – to ensure that in this House we can come together in an open forum to debate our political differences in such a manner that all voices have the right to be heard and are afforded dignity," Mbete said at the start of the sitting.

"We forged a country, out of the ashes of our apartheid past and transcended all that was done to us.  In doing so we unequivocally said that no matter how divergent our political views, we would uphold the values of tolerance, dignity and respect.

"We saw each other as fellow human beings – no matter your race, no matter your creed, no matter if you belonged to the majority or the minority.  In so doing, we distinguished ourselves from a violent and lawless society.

"This is not to say that we are not a deeply divided society or that the wounds of the divisions of the past do not run deep in all of us. However, as honourable members we have a duty, by our actions, to contribute towards the healing of these wounds and to set an example that can be emulated by society. I therefore appeal to members to always remember this." 

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EDITED BY: News24Wire
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