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Mbete sorry for ‘roach’ quip to Juju

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete cleared the way for her to return to the chair of the joint parliamentary sitting for President Jacob Zuma’s reply to the state of the nation debate in Cape Town today by apologising to EFF leader Julius Malema.

Mbete has apologised unconditionally for comparing Malema to a cockroach, and for any other statements she made this weekend which caused South Africans offence.

Speaking at the ANC provincial conference in North West on Saturday, Mbete among other issues called on ANC members to oppose the EFF violently in their communities.

But the comment that caused the greatest upset was when she likened Malema to a cockroach, the same term used to ignite the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Ever since her comments, she has not taken the chair in parliament.

It was generally accepted that if she had done so without apology, both the DA and EFF would have refused to accept her return quietly.

Both the DA and EFF have asked her to resign, citing bias against the opposition.

When the media quizzed her on Tuesday regarding her comments, she did not answer any questions on the matter.

But yesterday Mbete issued an apology on the issue.

“I have been thinking long and hard about the remarks I made at the ANC North West provincial conference on Saturday,” Mbete states in her apology.

“I have concluded that my remarks – all offending statements I made – were inappropriate.

“I withdraw my remarks unreservedly. I apologise unconditionally to South Africans, to parliament and to the honourable Julius Malema for any hurt or harm I may have caused,” Mbete stated

Meanwhile, the trading of political jabs continued unabated during the state of the nation address debate yesterday, with Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele hitting DA deputy chief whip John Steenhuisen below the belt.

Cele told the joint sitting of parliament’s two houses that he hoped one day Steenhuisen would be brave enough to disclose to the institution why he had left the KwaZulu-Natal legislature to move to Cape Town, where took up the job of a DA MP.

Cele was referring to a love affair Steenhuisen had with a married party official in 2010 when he served in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature.

Steenhuisen did not rise to object or dispute Cele’s jibe and only joined DA MPs in heckling him.

The DA MP and the implicated woman, Terry Kass, were married in December last year.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu, got social media abuzz after pronouncing the surname of ANC MP Thandi Mahambehlala as “Mahambelahla” which is township slang to refer to a woman with low morals.

The ANC MP requested National Council of Provinces chairman Thandi Modise to order Shivambu to withdraw the “insult”.

Shivambu said: “Oh, yes, I had made a mistake honourable chair”.

Earlier, Steenhuisen complained about MPs being “screened for the first time ever” before they entered the house by members of the SAPS VIP protection unit deployed in parliament to guard ministers.

He argued that this violated lawmakers’ privilege of “unfettered access” to the NA chamber and demanded that Modise probe the matter.

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