A Twitter spat has erupted between EFF and Democratic Alliance (DA) members of parliament (MPs) over DA chief whip John Steenhuisen's qualifications.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and the party's spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi mocked Steenhuisen on Twitter after a Sunday Times report revealed that Steenhuisen's highest qualification is matric.
The report suggested the DA’s “degree proposal” could be bad news for Steenhuisen.
Shivambu tweeted on Sunday: "So @jsteenhuisen doesn’t have a degree or diploma or certificate in anything? His shallowness explains the whole thing."
Ndlozi tweeted: "Madoda, DA Chief Whip @jsteenhuisen doesn’t have a post-matric qualification? If it were a black leader, this article would have even published his matric results. So as to tarnish his standing as a chief whip for a serious law-making institution like Parliament #whiteprivilege."
Steenhuisen did not take kindly to the tweets.
He tweeted: "Your qualifications have obviously equipped you and your journeymen well for rational debate (beating up journalists) and VBS looting. I would rather be degreeless and honest than qualified and dishonest like you."
Steenhuisen also tweeted: "For all your degrees and qualifications you’re still a bunch of VBS looters and thugs I’m sure those who have suffered as a result of your party’s greed and thuggery have taken cold comfort knowing you had a degree while you betrayed them."
Shivambu hit back at Steenhuisen's "crazy" allegations about VBS looting.
"This again is a perfect reflection of lack of organised knowledge and post-secondary training. You must go to school and stop throwing crazy allegations. School is the topic now. Learn how to focus on the topic: SCHOOL," Shivambu emphasised.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane jumped into the defence of Steenhuisen.
"I have worked with a great legislator, a chief whip and a friend. He is the finest Chief whip of the opposition in Parli. A constitutionalist and a fierce defender of freedom. He will continue to serve our party and the people of South Africa @jsteenhuisen," he tweeted.
Steenhuisen's colleagues in the DA also joined in the spat.
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme, said: "It’s list season. We call it electionitis. People are worried about their seats & seeing who they can eliminate. Nothing to see here, typical. @jsteenhuisen is a great Chief Whip, with more talent & knowledge about Parly than many with a dozen qualifications. Move along."
DA MP Belinda Bozzoli tweeted: "I have lots of degrees but look up to John Steenhuisen as an experienced, quick witted, highly knowledgeable politician from whom I have learnt an enormous amount."
Dean Macpherson, another DA MP wrote: "I’ve known @jsteenhuisen 10 years. He’s taught me everything I know in politics. Honesty, hard work, accountability, knowing your subject matter, dedication to my party & country. No degree can teach you that. SA & the DA is a better place because of people like John."
Steenhuisen may be demoted to being a "backbencher" after next year’s elections if a proposal by his party to the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers is considere, according to the Sunday Times report.
The DA caucus in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature has proposed that only an MP with a university degree be considered for the position of chief whip, according to the report.