MPs trade insults during state capture debate

Common thread running through opposition speeches is that state capture a scourge and Parliament failed its Constitutional duty

MPs trade insults during state capture debate

29 November 2017

Cape Town – While some ANC MPs tried to stop a debate in the National Assembly on state capture, MPs of the party who actually participated in the debate reaffirmed the ANC's commitment to stamping out corruption.

Tuesday evening's debate titled "The scourge of State Capture – Parliament's duty to investigate and hold the executive to account" – was in the name of DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.

Steenhuisen had barely made it to the podium when ANC MP Moloko Maila jumped up on a point of order in terms of the rule of anticipation. He said the House was dealing with the matter of state capture and the debate would pre-empt reports on the matter that will later be before the House.

"The House will be grossly out of order," he said.

ANC MPs Mervyn Dirks and Peace Mabe raised similar points of order, but presiding officer Thoko Didiza said the rule of anticipation relates to a topic that is on the order paper, which wasn’t the case in this instance.

Steenhuisen got going and referred to the ANC MPs who held a "press conference" with Gupta-backed ANN7 to disparage the debate as the "gang of 6".

Dirks jumped up on another point of order, saying Steenhuisen must withdraw his reference to the six "honourable members" as a gang.

"He must withdraw or we'll not allow him to speak!" said Dirks.

Steenhuisen's deputy, Mike Waters, stood up on a point of order, and referred to Dirks as "the honourable Dick".

"I'm not going to accept that white boy calling me a dick," a visibly enraged Dirks said, pointing his finger at Waters.

Waters apologised for mispronouncing his name and complained that Dirks had threatened Steenhuisen.

'Berlin Wall'

The common thread through opposition MPs speeches was that state capture is a scourge, that it is Parliament's role to hold the executive to account but that Parliament had failed in this constitutional duty due to what Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota called the "tyranny of the ANC majority" who "dance for their Gupta masters", as Steenhuisen put it.

DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who serves on the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises currently investigating Eskom, said they would not back down in the face of intimidation.

"We will not be pushed around by a corrupt few," she said.

Agang MP Andries Tlouamma said: "This motion is a laxative to those who are mentally constipated by state capture.

"The Zuma presidency has become a Berlin Wall against transparency and accountability."

'ANC will get to the bottom of state capture'

PAC MP Luthando Mbinda said state capture started when the settler set foot on African soil.

ANC MP Lusizo Makhubela-Mashele said the ANC took serious issue with state capture, adding that those who had captured the ANC must be shown the door.

"In the wisdom of those who drafted the Constitution they used the word 'must'," she said in reference to Parliament's oversight role.

"We must hold everybody accountable without fear or favour," she said to applause from the ANC benches, excluding Dirks.

She said the DA brought this motion prematurely.

"The notion that nothing is being done is wrong," she said.

She said the ANC would get to the bottom of corruption and state capture.

Similarly, ANC MP Mondli Gungubele said the ANC had taken resolutions "to deal with this scourge".

"Talk is cheap!" bellowed DA MP Lindy Wilson as an interjection.

Gungubele said the opposition didn't want the ANC to deal effectively with corruption, because it taints the ANC, as doubts about corruption remain.

"The ANC will never hand over the state to the Guptas," he said.