You are abusing your powers, DA MP tells Baleka Mbete

2014-11-13 15:15

Opposition parties jumped out of their seats and shouted “you must go” at speaker Baleka Mbete in Parliament today after she tried to restrict the time scheduled for motions in the chamber.

“Reverse the decision,” Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane snapped at Mbete as MPs in the opposition benches clapped and chorused “Go!”

“We request that the debate continue as per schedule,” Maimane added.

Mbete told him to take his seat but he retorted: “I refuse.”

The pandemonium began shortly after 2pm and was growing louder about 40 minutes later in what was scheduled to be one of the longest sittings of the chamber of the year.

The first formal item on the agenda was a debate on the report adopted this week by the ad hoc committee on Nkandla, and it was expected that the opposition would use the opportunity to bring a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The DA and Economic Freedom Fighters led the charge against Mbete, with several members rising at once and clamouring to be recognised.

“I would ask with respect that you surrender your chair to the honourable [house chairperson Cedric] Frolick. You have lost control of the house for the second time, you have pushed us to the brink of a constitutional crisis,” DA chief whip John Steenhuisen charged.

“You are abusing your powers. I only hope that you are doing this because [ANC secretary-general] Gwede [Mantashe] told you to.”

Steenhuisen argued that since opposition parties had given warning of motions during a meeting of the programming committee earlier today, Mbete could not limit them for “unforeseen events” because they did not qualify as such.

Mbete sought to remain calm amid the heckling and said: “I’m amazed by your excitement, I just don’t understand it.”

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