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Presiding officers to address parly disruptions

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Parliament’s presiding officers will on Friday address the media on disruptions during a National Assembly sitting on Thursday.

The briefing was due to start at Parliament at 9am.

“The briefing will address incidents related to the National Assembly plenary sitting on Thursday,” it said in a statement.

At 10.30am, the opposition Democratic Alliance would hold its own briefing on the matter.

“DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen will brief the media following yesterday’s events in the National Assembly,” it said in a statement.

“Maimane and Steenhuisen will brief the media on the next steps that will be taken to arrest the constitutional crisis that we face.”

The DA’s briefing will also take place in Parliament.

On Thursday, opposition parties shouted down National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete when she tried to prevent them from bringing dozens of motions.

Most of these were related to spending on so-called security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, which Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma to have unduly benefited from.

Tempers flared over the hours as African National Congress MPs retaliated by objecting to motions the opposition attempted to bring to delay tabling a report on the upgrades.

Veteran ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, who was pivotal in the ad hoc committee that drafted the report absolving Zuma from responsibility for the alleged abuse of funds at Nkandla, said the opposition was exaggerating Madonsela’s findings.

He called Maimane “the liar of the century”.

He was forced to withdraw the insult, but went on: “There was no evidence in any of the reports that there was any undue influence on the part of the president. On what basis does one link the escalation of the costs with the president? There is no basis to link anything with the president.”

It drew howls of protest from opposition parties.

Members of the police public order policing unit also entered the National Assembly chamber on Thursday night causing a scuffle.

The drama unfolded after EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela refused to leave the podium when she was ordered to do so by house chairman Cedric Frolick.

Mashabela called Zuma a “thief” during a debate on the Grand Inga Hydro Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and refused to withdraw her remarks.

Mashabela would not be moved when serjeant-at-arms Regina Mohlomi tried to escort her from the podium.

Police arrived minutes later tugging at Mashabela — who could be heard shouting “I don’t want to be touched”.

MPs from opposition benches, expressed outrage, and jumped to Mashabela’s defence.

Meanwhile, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu was physically restrained after an altercation in the hallways outside the chamber.

Tensions rose when Zulu and EFF MP Godrich Gardee started sparring verbally off microphone inside the Chamber.

Zulu signalled to Gardee that they take the matter outside the Chamber.

Zulu stormed into the hallway and headed to the doors leading to the side of the House where opposition party members are seated.

She was followed by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Gardee did not emerge from the chamber, but police officers and members of Parliament’s protection services stood alert.

ANC MPs held Zulu back as she shouted: “Where is he?” in her mother tongue.

She was eventually escorted away, and police officers warned those in the hallway to remain calm.

Later, Zulu returned to the chamber, only to be confronted by a motion by DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis, who asked that she be removed because she “brought shame to the House”.

Zulu was seen shouting the word “liar”, prompting DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard to jump up.

Zulu eventually withdrew her remark unconditionally.

Usually composed Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, who had replaced Mbete, also had to withdraw a remark.

Steenhuisen had called Juli Kilian, who defected from the opposition to the ANC, a “turncoat”.

“Who the hell do you think you are talking to when you use a term like that?” Tsenoli asked, before immediately apologising and withdrawing the remark saying it was a slip of the tongue. SAPA

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