WATCH: ANC ministers, EFF MP in verbal clash

By Drum Digital
13 November 2014

Members of Parliament's protection services had their hands full keeping angry MPs in check outside the National Assembly chamber on Thursday.

 An irate Lindiwe Zulu, minister of small business development, was physically restrained after an altercation in the hallways outside the chamber.

Tensions rose when Zulu and Economic Freedom Fighters MP Godrich Gardee started sparring verbally off microphone inside the Chamber. Zulu signalled to Gardee that they take the matter outside the Chamber.

Zulu stormed into the hallway and headed to the doors leading to the side of the House where opposition party members are seated.

She was followed by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Gardee did not emerge from the Chamber, but police officers and members of Parliament's protection services stood alert.

African National Congress MPs held Zulu back as she shouted: "Where is he?" in her mother tongue.

She was eventually escorted away, and police officers warned those in the hallway to remain calm.

Later, Zulu returned to the chamber, only to be confronted by a motion by Democratic Alliance MP Geordin Hill-Lewis, who asked that she be removed because she "brought shame to the House".

Zulu was seen shouting the word "liar", prompting DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard to jump up.

"The honourable minister Zulu has been seen referring to honourable Hill-Lewis as a liar. The evidence is all over YouTube," Kohler Barnard said, referring to a clip of the hallway incident that was uploaded to the social media website.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli ordered that Zulu withdraw her remark, but added: "We do not use YouTube as a basis for making rulings in the House."

Zulu eventually withdrew her remark unconditionally.

The hallway scuffle happened during a chaotic sitting of the National Assembly.

Earlier in the sitting, loud howling and chanting reverberated throughout the parliamentary precinct when DA and EFF MPs objected to a ruling by Speaker Baleka Mbete.

Opposition MPs continuously defied Mbete after she ruled that motions be cut short as the programme of Thursday's sitting was so long it could result in MPs debating well into the night.

The DA and EFF objected, saying Mbete's ruling was not the agreement reached during a meeting of the programme committee earlier in the day.

Mbete refused to recognise members of the opposition who tried to address her on the matter.

This prompted the MPs to shout into their microphones, demanding to be heard.

Mbete ordered MPs to sit down.

Deputy DA chief whip Mike Waters refused, and was told to leave the Chamber. He emphatically stated: "I will not."

Several DA MPs jumped to Waters' defence, and chanted: "She must go," pointing at Mbete.

Several other MPs then suggested Mbete suspend proceedings.

She refused.

Even a call from Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, would not move Mbete.

"We are embarrassed ourselves. We cannot carry on this way," Meshoe said of the chaotic situation in the Chamber.

He said Mbete's ruling was responsible for the disorder.

Mbete replied: "I regret I will not agree to what you are saying."

Under immense pressure to reverse her ruling, Mbete eventually relented after ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani suggested the House continue as originally planned.

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