ANC MP John Jeffery apologises

2013-06-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — To describe MPs as racist, “clowns” and “darkies” is completely out of order, and speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu has appealed to members to choose their words more carefully.

“Remarks of a personal, racist or sexist nature are out of order, completely out of order. I therefore appeal to members, as public representatives, to refrain from coarse, uncouth, or unbecoming language that detracts from the dignity or decorum of the house,” Sisulu said yesterday.

Senior ANC MP John Jeffery, who last week referred to DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko’s weight, formally withdrew his controversial remark and apologised to her yesterday.

He did so after deputy speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo ruled emphatically that the comment was unparliamentary.

“In the past, many rulings were made on remarks regarding members’ physical appearance, and these have always been found to be insensitive, offensive and a violation of a member’s dignity,” she said.

“I have no intention to depart from this precedent, and I accordingly find that remark not only insensitive, but unparliamentary. It is indeed the responsibility of every one of us to ensure that we exercise the right to freedom of speech in a considerate and responsible manner.”

Mazibuko, this time clad in a black dress and the same jacket as last week, nodded her head to acknowledge Jeffery’s apology and smiled faintly.

ANC MP Buti Manamela, who had remarked on Mazibuko’s fashion sense, did not have to apologise, as the ANC had agreed that Mazibuko had been dressed inappropriately when Manamela made his remarks.

Manamela had also said last week in the debate on the presidential budget that members must stop being “acceptable darkies for the DA”.

Minority Front MP Roy Bhoola had said that Sandy Kalyan, deputy chief whip in the DA, was a clown and that she took part in the “racism of the DA”. Bhoola, who did not attend yesterday’s sitting, must now withdraw these remarks.

Sisulu said it was not good to accuse people of racism in view of SA’s history of racism.

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