Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s belly shook with mirth as the National Assembly again descended into arguments over House rules during questions on the Sudan peace process and #FeesMustFall.
In a volley of points of order, some MPs shouted insults at each other across the floor, while others, like Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, looked on in dismay.
Even Ramaphosa’s smile faded as his question and answer session was constantly interrupted by questions and heckling, and MPs slapping their microphone necks down as they fell back into their seats after raising their points of order.
Ramaphosa had been briefing Parliament on progress with the Arusha agreement in which splinter groups within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had agreed to go back to Juba to consolidate into one movement in support of peace and democracy in South Sudan.
He explained that, although it had been a “stop and start process”, things were improving in South Sudan, and the African Union was dealing separately with a report on alleged human rights violations.
But the EFF only wanted to know what Ramaphosa would get out of it and to link Ramaphosa, a former MTN chairperson, to the communications company’s current woes.
“You presided over MTN for years, avoiding taxes to enrich you. How can you be trusted to oversee any peace process?” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi demanded to know.
African National Congress MPs shouted in defence of Ramaphosa.
“How will we know you are not thieving again,” repeated Ndlozi, smiling mischievously.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said according to the rules of Parliament, an MP could make a statement, then ask a question, as long as he did not take more than one minute.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli allowed Ndlozi to continue.
While this was unfolding, people from the back benches shouted “Who’s your daddy” at EFF MP Floyd Shivambu, after a report that a DNA test had linked him to a child whose paternity he had questioned in a maintenance dispute.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha rose to say that Ramaphosa could not be called a thief, because only a court could proclaim a person a thief.
Ndlozi latched on to this, saying the ANC regularly made accusations in the National Assembly, which included calling apartheid a crime when it had not been declared a crime by a court.
EFF MP Hlayiseka Chewane chimed in: “It seems negotiations always favour the deputy president, because post-1994 you suddenly became a millionaire.”
‘This is not a kindergarten’
When the subject turned to the university fees increase, DA leader Mmusi Maimane tried to keep his call to cut VIP services to help pay for university fees on the boil.
Ramaphosa repeated a claim by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that the government was a victim of its own success, and Ndlozi leapt up saying Ramaphosa was deliberately misleading the house.
“Students brought them to that [no fee increase] kicking and screaming in that soprano voice of Blade Nzimande.”
After a lengthy exchange of points of order, Tsenoli sighed: “Honourable members. This is bad. This is absolutely bad and out of order.”
“Honourable Ndlozi correctly reminds us this is not a kindergarten. Not even children take so long to understand. No, you are out of order members. Honourable members, this behaviour is unacceptable,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s question and answer session ended, and MPs went on to read notices of motion, which were routinely objected to. News24