ANC MP Dirks apologises for showing finger in Parliament

2017-12-04 11:55
ANC MP Mervyn Dirks is facing parliamentary disciplinary action for giving fellow MPs the middle finger during a National Assembly sitting.

ANC MP Mervyn Dirks is facing parliamentary disciplinary action for giving fellow MPs the middle finger during a National Assembly sitting. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Former Msunduzi Municipality deputy mayor and ANC MP Mervyn Dirks is facing expulsion from Parliament for showing a female colleague the middle finger during Wednesday’s National Assembly sitting.

But a contrite Dirks told Weekend Witness that he offered an unreserved apology for using the zap sign in Parliament.

He denied another allegation — that he had threatened a female colleague.

Both Parliament and the ANC have come out strongly against the MP’s conduct.

“Members of Parliament ought to be the custodians of our Constitution and this democracy,” said ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, in a statement.

“It is therefore unacceptable that a member of Parliament can be found to be involved in such unbecoming behaviour. Dirks’s behaviour was despicable and not in keeping with the image of Parliament,” said Mthembu.

- Read more: Dirks's behaviour despicable - Mthembu

Dirks’s conduct during Wednesday’s sitting resulted in the MP being thrown out of the National Assembly.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen had alerted the House chairperson Cedric Frolick, to the fact that Dirks had made the rude gesture to the female MP.

When Frolick questioned Dirks, a known supporter of ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while denying Steenhuisen’s claims he once more flipped up his middle finger.

“Can you leave the House,” Frolick then said.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said in a statement that Parliament was looking into the Dirks matter. She also condemned his conduct.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said, “The Speaker is in the process of determining a suitable course of action. This could include referring the matter to an appropriate committee of Parliament for further investigation and decision.

“The alleged threatening gestures fly in the face of the 16 Days of Activism during which society is raising awareness about violence against women and children and calling on men, particularly, to challenge behaviour and norms that condone violence,” said Mothapo.

Apology

But Dirks said: “While I unconditionally apologise for making that sign in Parliament I completely deny the claim that I threatened a female MP.”

It was not the first time Dirks, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, had given fellow MPs the middle finger.

In August a screenshot showing Dirks giving opposition MPs the middle finger during President Jacob Zuma’s question and answer parliamentary session, went viral on social media.

At the time Dirks claimed that his conduct was in retaliation to the insults DA MPs had directed at him.

He also, alongside four other ANC MPs, attempted to block Parliament’s state capture debate that took place in the National Assembly last week.

Dirks had also been accused of racking up R60 000 in unpaid rates owed to the Msunduzi Municipality for his Woodlands property.

'Disgrace'

DA KwaZulu-Natal deputy leader and MP Mergan Chetty, also railed against Dirks’s behaviour.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s unacceptable because he misled Parliament and South Africa. It’s not the first time he has done this. His actions reflect on Pietermaritzburg and as the former deputy mayor and a public representative he represents the people who voted him in,” he said.

“The fact that it’s the second incident on record indicates he has no respect for the decorum of the house or South Africans,” he said.

Dirks replied: “I do not want to dignify his comments with a response.”

Read more on:    mervyn dirks  |  pietermaritzburg  |  politics  |  parliament 2017

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