Under-fire minister attacks 'killer' MPs

2013-05-23 22:17
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Picture: AFP)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town - Men in opposition benches were part of the apartheid-era army that maimed and killed people, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Thursday.

She made the accusation during a heated debate on her budget vote in the National Assembly.

"At a time when some of you were conducting raids and maiming and killing women and children in the frontline states, I was there in the trenches... fighting for liberation in this country," Mapisa-Nqakula said, pointing at opposition party benches.

She was responding to criticism from opposition party MPs who said she was guilty of leading a scandal-ridden department.

The Democratic Alliance, Cope and Freedom Front Plus MPs made reference to the landing of a private jet at the Waterkloof Air Force base and the deaths of 13 soldiers in the Central African Republic.

Mapisa-Nqakula denied she was hiding information on the matter and repeated her attack on opposition party MPs.

"I am at the helm of a defence force that talks about peace, that advocates for peace and stability in the African continent.

"I am not in a defence force that was maiming and killing women, civilians and children, at a time when you were conscripted and joined the SA Defence Force."

DA MP Ian Ollis asked debate chairperson Grant Snell to censure the minister.

"The minister has twice now pointed at me and she said... members of this side of the house were involved in maiming and killing women and children.

"I've never fired a gun in my life and I ask that she withdraws her statement and stop pointing here," Ollis said as ANC MPs heckled him.

Snell ignored Ollis's call for him to intervene.

"It is possible and I may not have pointed at you... but I did point in that direction because you know most of you males at the time did serve in the South African Defence Force," Mapisa-Nqakula countered.

DA MP Sandy Kalyan tried again to have the minister chastised.

"The minister is repeatedly making reference to the males on this side of the house who were part of, or allegedly part of an army, possibly in the apartheid era, maiming and killing women and children," said Kalyan.

"Those comments are unparliamentary, and cast aspersions on the integrity of the male members on this side and I ask that it be withdrawn."

Snell refused to ask the minister to withdraw, giving his opinion on the matter.

"I don't think we can brush away history and at the same time we realise not everyone was involved, but in the historic context that did take place so I'm going to let that go," he told the house.

While Snell let Mapisa-Nqakula off the hook, he was not as lenient with DA MP Mike Waters.

Earlier in the debate, he ordered Waters to leave the House for shouting the word "fraudster" while ANC MP Mnyami Booi was speaking.

Snell asked Water to withdraw his remark.

"The honourable member [Booi] was found guilty in a court of law of fraud... I can't withdraw," Waters replied.

After refusing several times to take back his words, Snell asked Waters to leave.

In 2009, Booi pleaded guilty to theft for his part in the Travelgate scandal. He remained an MP after his conviction.

The Travelgate scandal involved MPs exchanging their parliamentary travel vouchers for private trips, and in some cases even cash, costing taxpayers millions of rand.

Read more on:    cope  |  da  |  ff plus  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  mike waters  |  ian ollis  |  parliament 2013  |  politics

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