Cele withdraws allegation about Sitole, Malema plotting against him

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Marvin Charles
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele was ordered to withdraw his allegation that EFF leader Julius Malema plotted with national police commissioner Khehla Sitole to remove him.
  • EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu also had to withdraw his statement that Cele is "useless".
  • After Shivambu's eventual withdrawal, the EFF raised several points of order.

Police Minister Bheki Cele was ordered to withdraw his accusation that EFF leader Julius Malema conspired with national police commissioner Khehla Sitole to have him removed.

Cele made the allegation during Monday's debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA) after opposition speakers roundly criticised him.

He said Malema met with Sitole on 10 December 2020 in Pretoria, where "the plot was hashed that I [Cele] must be changed".

"It is not a surprise he [Malema] comes here and changes a Cabinet he does not have. The Honourable Malema will have to wait, win an election, have a Cabinet and appoint the Cabinet," Cele added.

READ | Cele claims Malema and Sitole tried to hatch a plot to remove him

Malema challenged Cele to repeat this outside Parliament, where he would not be protected by parliamentary privilege.

Cele said he would repeat it on Friday when he presented the latest crime statistics.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu objected, saying Cele "cast aspersions on the Honourable Malema, the commander-in-chief".

"He must, of course, be removed because he is useless," added Shivambu, to which ANC MP Bheki Radebe objected, saying it was "offence language" to call a minister "useless".

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said Shivambu had raised a point of order and then broke the rules himself.

On Tuesday, the second day of the debate, Tsenoli came back with a ruling.

He ordered Cele to withdraw his remarks as it impugned Malema's honour and should be brought in a substantive motion.

Cele withdrew.

He also ordered Shivambu to withdraw his remarks.

Shivambu first wanted Tsenoli to repeat his ruling but eventually withdrew, saying his withdrawal did not come from the bottom of his heart.

Tsenoli did not accept this conditional withdrawal, and eventually, Shivambu withdrew.

He said he would take the ruling up with the Rules Committee and possibly the courts because it could not be that opposition MPs could call ministers useless.

READ | Sitole denies Cele's allegation that he plotted with Malema to remove him as police minister

EFF MPs Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, and Natasha Ntlangwini then raised several points of order, complaining Cele did not withdraw on a microphone.

"You are not useful if you do not become fair," Ndlozi said to Tsenoli.

"Let him show us how big his balls are. Let us hear it," Ntlangwini said, presumably about Cele.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said: "We are supposed to be honourable members of Parliament, and the use of offensive language is not allowed."

Tsenoli said he would come back later with a ruling to allow the proceedings to continue.

She asked that the House be protected from the EFF. "We cannot be held at ransom by EFF."

Earlier on Tuesday, Sitole responded to Cele's accusation, denying he plotted with Malema to remove him.

He said he learnt of Cele's statement with "shock and dismay". 

Sitole added he did meet with Malema, but it was only to discuss his safety and nothing else. 

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