AfriForum's Roets, BLF's Mngxitama both question priorities of MPs in boisterous session

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The draft Expropriations Bill is currently in Parliament.
The draft Expropriations Bill is currently in Parliament.
PHOTO: iStock
  • AfriForum's Ernst Roets said parliamentarians are out of touch with the priorities of everyday people.
  • BLF's Andile Mngxitama refused to address MPs as "honourable" and said they were complicit in fraud.
  • MPs took on Roets, with the EFF calling him racist, but no one questioned Mngxitama on his assertions against Parliament.

The motives and priorities of MPs were questioned by interest groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum – AfriForum and Black First Land First (BLF) – on Wednesday when the ad hoc committee amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation heard oral submissions.

After AfriForum's head of policy and action Ernst Roets' presentation – which he opened by quoting Frantz Fanon – committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga asked: "Do you believe in the capacity of South Africans – both black and white – to find solutions to their own problems? And if so, can you explain why you rush to the United Nations to raise your concerns about processes in the country before South Africans themselves sit as we are sitting now to deal with these issues?"

Roets responded: "We certainly do have confidence in the people of South Africa to resolve issues like these. But what we do not have confidence in, is the people who represent the people of South Africa in Parliament." 

He claimed politicians' priorities were not in line with those of everyday South Africans.

"The problem is the people aren't properly represented in Parliament."

ANC MP Dibolelo Mahlatsi said Roets' answer insinuated that the committee's process was not proper.

"Why are you participating in a process that you do not believe in?" she asked.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu said: "This process is so transparent and democratic, we even allow racists to come and speak in Parliament and say this parliamentary process is not legitimate…

FF Plus MP Corné Mulder raised an objection to Shivambu calling Roets racist.

Ernst Roets
Ernst Roets.

A smiling Shivambu said: "I said, as part of this process, we allow all sorts of characters of different creeds and form, including racist children and kids to come and undermine this particular process. This is what we have been doing, listening to absolute nonsense and rubbish from people who are saying we are not legitimate."

Motshekga said Shivambu had not said anybody specific was racist, and that was why he hadn't ruled him out of order.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said:

Whoever doesn't believe in us, don't talk to us!

"It is wrong, I make it unequivocal, that it is informed by racial patronisation that actually informs AfriForum."

"I'm saying they're saying it because they're racist as an organisation. Roets is racist," he said.

No MP objected, and Motshekga didn't rule him out of order. Motshekga said South Africans – black and white – elected representatives to Parliament, so it could not be illegitimate, and that notion should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

Roets said he noted that Shivambu had said he wasn't racist, but that Ndlozi responded by saying: "You are racist, Roets! Don't misrepresent me." 

"Don't put words in my mouth, racist fool."

Laughing, Roets denied that he had said Parliament was illegitimate.

"What I said was that politicians in Parliament seem to be out of touch with realities on ground level," he said.

"The point is that we do believe this is a process we should participate in."

He said their concern was that the push for expropriation without compensation did not take cognisance of the realities on the ground.

"We can all pretend people love their politicians and the people who work at Parliament, but that doesn't detract from the humour and the irony of the fact that a corruption connoisseur like Floyd Shivambu is trying to lecture us on how to properly run a country," said a smiling Roets.

After several shouts of "no", Ndlozi said: "We are not going to be abused by this racist boy here."

Motshekga asked Roets to withdraw and take the meeting seriously. Roets responded that it was unfair that MPs could make "atrocious allegations" against him, but when he responded he had to withdraw.

"This fucking racist," said EFF MP Sinawo Tambo, as Roets concluded.

DA MP Mimmy Gondwe objected to the use of profanity and the calling of someone racist. She said she wasn't sure who he was referring to.

Tambo said: "Ernst Roets. Ernst Roets is a racist."

"What she's [Gondwe] raising now is irrelevant. She doesn't even know to who the remark was directed, so that is not something we can entertain," ruled Motshekga.

Andile Mngxitama, BLF-president. Foto: Felix Dlangamandla

About an hour later, BLF's Andile Mngxitama started his presentation by saying: "Let me start by saying, I'm recognising all the members. Ideologically, I'm incapable of stating 'honourable' because I don't know whether you can say a landless people 26 years after democracy, and their leaders, can claim the title of being honourable."

Motshekga said he didn't want controversy and that Parliament had rules.

"All members of this committee are honourable members of Parliament and they should be addressed as such," he insisted

Ndlozi responded: "I think, chairperson, with the greatest respect, allow the honourable Mngxitama to critique this question of us being honourable and claiming to be landless. It's a fair comment that must not be suppressed."

EFF MP Mbuyseni Ndlozi reacting to BLF's Andile Mngxitama saying his ideology prevents him from calling MPs honourable, said:

It's a fair comment that must not be suppressed.

Mngxitama, a former member of the EFF, then claimed that the bill before the committee had nothing to do with expropriation without compensation.

"It is a monumental betrayal of our people's desire for land, 26 years after democracy," he said.

He added that, if the committee endorsed the bill, it would be complicit in "this betrayal, this monumental fraud".

After the bill was passed, it would not return all the land owned by white people to black people, he said

"Parliament, and your committee, is involved in a massive fraud," said Mngxitama.

No member of the committee questioned Mngxitama on his assertions against Parliament and the committee.

His assertion that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was "anti-black" also went unchallenged.

The committee will conclude the virtual oral public hearings on Thursday.

When AfriForum and BLF made presentations to the Constitutional Review Committee on expropriation without compensation in 2018, they also stirred controversy.

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