ANC accuses DA of being crude about Masutha's eyesight

2015-11-06 21:15
Michael Masutha. (GCIS)

Michael Masutha. (GCIS)

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Cape Town - The ANC has accused DA chief whip John Steenhuisen of being crude and discriminatory about Justice Minister Michael Masutha's partial blindness.

Steenhuisen, however, rejected the accusation made after a sitting in the National Assembly on Thursday and said the party was "manufacturing outrage".

The trouble started on Thursday afternoon during a division ahead of the adoption of a report on higher education.

A division means the number of votes is counted instead of the usual request for members in favour to shout "aye" and those against to shout "nay".

After only a few "nays", the DA's benches were almost empty. Masutha stood up and asked how many members of the opposition had to be present for a division.

"On a point of order chair. I thought that in terms of the rules, at least four members should be present in a political party for it to be able to call a division," he said.

"Now I'm looking at the opposition benches, and I have poor vision and you will have to assist me with your better vision, but I can't see members of the opposition..."

He was told there were four DA members left, which was enough for a division.

But, he laboured his point: "Now chairperson, I am a blind man... can you explain to me who those four members are..."

Over the usual noise of the House, he was told they were DA MPs, but then Steenhuisen piped up: "It's little wonder our justice system is such a disgrace in this country if that's how the justice minister behaves."

An ANC MP leapt to Masutha's defence, saying Steenhuisen knew that Masutha was partially blind and that he was being insensitive.

Steenhuisen said he was not going to let that slide, and retorted: ''I was referring to Honourable Masutha's clear ignorance of the rules..." before he was interrupted, and preparations for the division were started.

Steenhuisen said on Friday that he would never make fun of Masutha, adding that the DA had even agreed to give up some of its own time for Masutha who reads Braille.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  john steenhuisen  |  michael masutha  |  cape town  |  politics

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