Mbete apologises for calling Malema a cockroach

2015-02-18 17:15

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The Economic Freedom Fighters has welcomed an apology to its leader Julius Malema by National Assembly Speaker and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete.

“The EFF welcomes this apology as a step forward and hopes indeed that the unfortunate events of the 12 February 2015 will be reviewed with the same sincerity expressed in the Speaker’s apology,” the organisation said in a statement.

Mbete apologised today for describing EFF leader Julius Malema as a cockroach.

“I apologise unconditionally, to South Africans, to Parliament and Honourable Julius Malema for any hurt or harm I may have caused,” she said in a statement today.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete’s apology

“If we don’t work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place,” the Mail&Guardian online quoted her as saying at an ANC North West congress on the weekend.

Mbete said she had been thinking long and hard about her words.

“I have concluded that my remarks, all offending statements I made, were inappropriate. The manner in which they came across was unfortunate and regrettable.”

She withdrew the remarks unreservedly.

The ANC also welcomed her apology. “The African National Congress welcomes the decision by the national chairperson of the ANC, comrade Baleka Mbete, to withdraw her remarks of calling Julius Malema a ‘cockroach’,” spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

“Her withdrawal is an indication that she has accepted public concerns for her remark.”

Earlier, the SA Human Rights Commission said it had received a complaint from a member of the public over Mbete’s remarks. The complaint was one of hate speech and incitement to violence, spokesman Isaac Mangena said.

During yesterday’s debate on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, Economic Freedom Fighters MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, supported by Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu, said Mbete should withdraw the remark.

Malema asked National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise to rule on the matter ahead of the debate.

“The Speaker said somewhere that members are cockroaches ... and we want that clarified before we proceed,” he said.

Modise said she could not make a ruling and could not apologise on Mbete’s behalf.

“What I can do is convey the sentiment and the message of this to the Speaker.”

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