'Aren't you tired of fighting?' Mbete asks DA whips as she leaves meeting early

2017-05-12 16:57
Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete. (Denis Farrell, AP, file)

Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete. (Denis Farrell, AP, file)

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Cape Town - DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and his deputy Mike Waters walked out of a Parliamentary meeting on Friday, after Speaker Baleka Mbete left early to catch a flight.

Steenhuisen and Mbete picked up where they left off at the previous day's House session, exchanging jibes about her brief appearance before MPs.

"It's a disgrace, a joke," Steenhuisen said across the committee room as Mbete got out of her seat.

"Are you not tired of fighting your whole life?" Mbete responded before leaving.

"Why can't you just do your job?" Steenhuisen hit back.

Parliament secretary Gengezi Mgidlana was making a presentation about the institution's financial and annual performance plan to Mbete and all the chief whips.

Mbete explained she was running a second workshop in Johannesburg on Friday, and postponed her flight to after noon to attend the committee and present.

Waters said it was very inappropriate that Mbete was leaving early, having arrived "an hour late".

Joint standing committee chairperson Mohai Seiso told MPs Mbete had notified them she could only attend a part of the meeting.

She did her bit by making herself available and presenting before the committee before leaving, he said.

Steenhuisen and Waters walked out thereafter.

An irate Steenhuisen told News24 outside that the meeting was essentially a waste of time. He said members of the executive needed to be present in performance plan meetings in order to keep them accountable.

Parliament on Friday slammed the DA's walkout, calling it "regrettable and unacceptable".

"The agenda of the committee and the invitation extended to the Speaker expressly specified that she was allocated only 30 minutes to make a presentation to the committee," spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

"The Speaker accordingly attended and made a presentation to the committee's workshop in line with the allocated time and left to attend to other prearranged parliamentary commitments."

In this regard, the walkout by the DA representatives was unnecessary and unfortunate and seeks to manufacture outrage where none exists, he said.

Mgidlana meanwhile deflected MP’s questions about Parliament's current state affairs. He painted a picture of Parliament's desire to improve its functioning in the coming financial year, despite accusations of an increase in militarization at the precinct, and low staff morale.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh told News24 afterwards it was worrying that so many staff were apparently unhappy working at Parliament under Mgidlana. Seven were currently facing disciplinary hearings.

Read more on:    da  |  baleka mbete  |  cape town  |  politics

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