EFF's Chirwa forced to withdraw remark that government was complicit in 'brutal murders' of Fees Must Fall activists

2019-06-25 19:27
EFF MP Naledi Chirwa (EFF Twitter)

EFF MP Naledi Chirwa (EFF Twitter)

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"You're jealous! She's outshining you!" EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told ANC MPs after they disrupted new EFF MP Naledi Chirwa's maiden speech.

In a fiery response to what she called a "stale, empty and meaningless" State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, the former Fees Must Fall activist said Ramaphosa's government was complicit in the "brutal murders" of her fellow activists who died during the protests. 

ANC House Whip Bheki Radebe objected, and Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said Chirwa should withdraw her comments.

Several EFF MPs complained about Tsenoli's ruling, but he would not budge. Chirwa eventually withdrew her comments but not before she uttered that "it is not a lie".

Tsenoli threatened to switch off her microphone.

Chirwa continued with her speech, and Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane rose on a point of order, further infuriating the red berets, leading to Ndlozi's response.

It is parliamentary convention to not disrupt an MP's maiden speech. It is also a convention for an MP to avoid making controversial statements in a maiden speech.

When ANC MP Yunus Carrim pointed this out in a subsequent speech, the EFF scoffed at him.

Apart from calling for justice for her fellow Fees Must Fall activists, Chirwa also spoke passionately about the plight of black women in terms of poverty and being excluded from the economy. 

"Black, old women don't have the luxury of dreaming like yourself."

As Chirwa left the podium, EFF MPs gave her a standing ovation and Fana Mokoena hugged her as she passed him.

Also making her maiden speech at the joint sitting was former Wits SRC president and Fees Must Fall leader Nompendulo Mkhatshwa who has since become an ANC MP.

She addressed matters similar to Chirwa's. 

Mkhatshwa said the police should not use apartheid tactics when dealing with protests. 

"Core to the student protest was nation building, and young people still find themselves behind bars."

She also called for the release of Fees Must Fall activists who are in prison. 

Mkhatshwa said in its election manifesto, the ANC outlined that it would accelerate legislation to deal with hate crimes, and that gender-based violence was one of the scourges facing South Africans.

She said patriarchy must be eradicated from society. 

She also took a swipe at the FF Plus whose election slogan was Slaan Terug (hit back).

"Slaan terug to what?" she asked, posing the question at its MPs.

Mkhatshwa's speech was well-received by her colleagues and on her way back to her seat she had a long chat with Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza.

Ramaphosa will respond to the debate on Wednesday. 

Read more on:    eff  |  naledi chirwa  |  sona debate
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