DA walks out of gender violence debate over 'JZ 783' comment

2016-11-22 13:34


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Cape Town - A debate on 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children descended into a shouting match in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

This happened after Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered a DA MP to leave the House for saying “JZ 783”, a reference to the 783 corruption charges President Jacob Zuma could face.

“Madam Speaker, you are a joke," DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said as his MPs walked out of the joint sitting.

"We will see you in court and embarrass you again."

Wisani murder conviction

It all began after DA MP Denise Robinson made reference to former ANCYL branch leader Patrick Wisani’s murder conviction in her speech.

On Monday, the High Court in Randburg found Wisani guilty of sjambokking his girlfriend, Nosipho Mandeleleni, 24, to death at their home in Yeoville, Johannesburg, in September last year.

Robinson said Wisani’s case was evidence of the ruling party’s attitude towards women.

“This gentleman motivated his application for bail on the grounds that he was an ANCYL branch chair and wanted to campaign for them.

“No sense that murdering a woman mattered and no belief that he would not be welcomed in the party.

“He even joked that he would start an ANC branch in prison. Does this show any respect for the rule of law?

“Perhaps he is just following the example of his leader, JZ 783. One can’t help remembering ‘Khwezi’, and the fate she suffered," Robinson said, referring to Zuma's 2006 rape accuser, Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.


ANC MPs objected to Robinson’s remarks.

Bhekizizwe Radebe said Robinson used “offensive language” in describing Zuma and should withdraw the remark.

Steenhuisen tried to object, but Mbete shut him down and asked Robinson to withdraw the comment.

“Honourable Speaker, I’m confused. What is derogatory about saying ‘JZ 783’?” Robinson asked.

“You are casting aspersions,” Mbete replied.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi then rose and said: “There is no JZ 783 in this House.”

Mbete said if Robinson would not withdraw, she would be asked to leave the House. She refused, and the party left with her.

As the DA MPs were leaving, Steenhuisen told Mbete the party would take her to court. He said the rules did not allow her to make such a ruling, due to the fact that it was a joint sitting with the NCOP.

The matter of Zuma’s corruption charges is currently before the Supreme Court of Appeal, after the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority should review its decision to drop the case against him.


'Grossly unreasonable'

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu called the decision “grossly unreasonable and unfair”.

In response, ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said Robinson was “casting aspersions” on the president, and MPs could not allow “lying” in Parliament.

Freedom Front Plus parliamentary leader Petrus Groenewald rebuked both parties during his speech, saying Parliament's attitude toward the issue is reflected in its speeches.

MPs were meant to set the example for children watching. Observers in the public gallery applauded Groenewald as he spoke.

Later in the debate, ANC MP Mervyn Dirks said Robinson's comment was inappropriate given the subject matter of the debate. He described the EFF's defence of the DA as “dogs defending their master”.

Shivambu replied that the same applied to ANC MPs who “immediately jumped to the defence of their master,” Zuma.

Minister of Women, Susan Shabangu, had the last word. She said the ANC welcomed Wisani's guilty verdict and would never condone violence against women.

She was very disappointed that the DA brought the subject during its speech.

Read more on:    da  |  eff  |  parliament 2016

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