AFRICANGLOBE – The speaker of South Africa’s national assembly, Baleka Mbete has apologised to opposition, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema after she called him a cockroach.
Malema accepted the apology from Mbete, who doubles as the ruling ANC chairperson.
Mbete’s remarks had caused uproar and anger in some quarters, as they said the statement bordered on hate speech.
The Human Rights Commission said they had received a complaint from the public on the matter.
The Mail & Guardian broke a story on its website about Mbete calling Malema a cockroach on Saturday afternoon, when she was speaking in her capacity as ANC national chairperson at the party’s North West provincial congress.
“The manner it came across was unfortunate and regrettable,” Mbete said.
“I withdraw the remarks unreservedly.
“I apologise unconditionally, to South Africans, to parliament and Honourable Julius Malema for any hurt or harm I may have caused.”
Malema said it was time to move on and focus on the business of parliament.
“The EFF welcomes this apology as a step forward and hopes indeed that the unfortunate events of the 12 February 2015 will be reviewed with the same sincerity expressed in the Speaker’s apology,” the organisation said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the debate on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address continues in parliament and political parties are still on the attack.
The country’s Justice Minister, Michael Masutha evoked anger in the House when he said Mbete was entitled to summon the army into the chamber.
“Even the SA National Defence Force can be deployed in parliament,” he said.
“As long as the intervention is necessary, justifiable and sanctioned by the presiding officers, it is perfectly legitimate.”
Members of the EFF and the Democratic Alliance objected to Masutha’s comments.
The DA is once again heading to court to force the Speaker not to call in the police to the National Assembly again.
Last week, the police entered the House and violently removed members of the EFF.
By: Crystal Oderson