CAPE TOWN – Parliament pushed through a resolution to adopt isiZulu as the only official language to conduct parliamentary sessions. This was done in an emergency sitting following the disruption of parliament by opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Members of the opposition called on parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete to resign, claiming that she abuses her power to protect the president. Baleka made last minute changes to the agreed upon program. She limited the time allowed for discussion, including a debate on the Nkandla matter. This made Jacob Zuma a happy man, but angered the opposition.
Despite several chants from the banks that she must “go, go, go”, Baleka refused to resign. “The president appointed me to this position,” she said. “I’m impartial only to him.”
“I’m not abusing my power,” she continued. It’s my job not to recognise anyone.”
Opposition parties claim that it is a deliberate attempt by the ANC to further erode the opposition.
The majority of DA’s MPs speak English. Mmusi Maimane, the party’s parliamentary leader, is a Tswana.
Most of the MPs representing the EFF speak Pedi, including party leader Julius Malema.
The four MPs of the Freedom Front Plus only understand Afrikaans.
The ANC, who hold the majority of seats in parliament, were unanimous in their decision to push the legislation through. “If they don’t know what we’re saying, we can ignore them a lot easier,” insisted ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani.
Baleka Mbete sees the decision as a momentous victory. “Now I won’t have to recognise anyone,” she grinned.
The DA remains determined despite the setback. “We’ll all be speaking Zulu by Monday,” insisted Deputy Chief Whip Michael Waters. “I’ve already learnt how to shout hamba, hamba, hamba!”
FF+ leader, Pieter Mulder, strongly opposed the decision. “Praat Afrikaans of hou jou bek (Speak Afrikaans or shut up),” he shouted.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party, welcomed the new resolution. “Hopefully this will halt the rapid decline of my ailing party,” he sighed. “People vote for parties that actually speak in parliament. Now maybe we’ll get a turn to disrupt.”
Julius Malema could not be reached for comment, as he is currently enjoying a 30 day unpaid forced vacation. BN
- Angry MPs Chant that Baleka Mbete Must Go (Eywitness News)
- You Are Abusing Your Powers, DA MPs Tell Mbete (City Press)