"You don't need a degree to see the EFF for what it is: an elitist clique that steals from the poor and downtrodden," says DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen, who does not have a degree, has been the subject of much mockery by EFF members on social media after it was reported over the weekend that the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature proposed a regulation to the Independent Commission for the Remuneration Public Office Bearers that only people with degrees should become chief whip, which would relegate Steenhuisen to the backbenches.
The National Assembly was debating the National Qualifications Amendment Bill, which will prohibit people from misrepresenting their qualifications.
Despite not serving on the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, which worked on the bill, Steenhuisen took part in the debate, pointing out that the Constitution does not require MPs to have degrees.
Steenhuisen started by stating to the "learned members of the House" that he would not be delivering a lecture.
Instead, he attacked the EFF.
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"How ironic it has been to see the EFF, the so-called vanguard of the working class, calling on a qualified franchise."
EFF MP Veronica Mente got up on a point of order.
'The ultimate form of hypocrisy'
"That is extremely misleading! That's the position of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal. You must leave the EFF out of it," she shouted.
DA MPs yelled back that that was not a point of order.
"I said point of order! You must go back to school!" she continued.
House chairperson Thoko Didiza calmly ruled: "That's a point of debate, it's not a point of order."
Steenhuisen continued that it was the "ultimate form of hypocrisy" for the EFF to "play dress-up" as mineworkers and domestic workers, but that it doesn't want them represented in Parliament.
He said he never pretended to have a degree. He enrolled for a BA in politics and law, but due to financial and work pressure he never completed it.
He said he wanted to serve the public and became a councillor at 22 years old.
"I never once used my position to line my own pockets," he said.
'You must go back to school'
Steenhuisen said the EFF's attacks on him, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and journalists are a smokescreen to "mask the corruption of their party".
"The EFF knows this is fatal to their brand. They're desperate."
Again Mente jumped up, claiming that Steenhuisen was casting aspersions on the EFF's leadership.
"You must go back to school! The leaders of this party sit in this Parliament," she said, pointing to the empty benches where EFF president Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu usually sit.
Of the EFF's 25 MPs in the National Assembly, only six were present for Tuesday's sitting.
When Didiza calmed things down, DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters said: "The fact is, the EFF is VBS looters (sic)."
Bill passed without DA, Cope
This set off another screaming match between the DA and EFF. IFP Mkhuleko Hlengwa asked Didiza to kick people out as Parliament wasn't a venue for DA and EFF battles.
Steenhuisen continued that the EFF knows – "like fascist organisations the world over" – that attack is the best form of defence.
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At the start of the debate, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor said misrepresentation was a concern for both the public and private sectors.
She said the bill would strengthen the South African Qualifications Authority's interventions.
"We believe this is an incredibly important piece of legislation," she said.
At the conclusion of the debate, Pandor said: "Thank you, honourable Steenhuisen, for making it the most exciting debate on higher education we've had in the House."
The DA and Cope were the only parties who did not support the bill, and the bill was passed.