With parliament back in action after members of the national legislature took time off to campaign for their political parties, the antics and personal jabs hurled by MPs to each other were on display on Wednesday afternoon during the governance cluster’s question-and-answer session in the National Assembly.
And with the African National Congress (ANC) emerging from the local elections bruised from losing major municipalities in the country’s urban areas, the mood in parliament clearly favoured the opposition benches.
EFF leader Julius Malema, not one to shy away from stirring controversy, told the Minister of Public Service and Administration Ngoako Ramatlhodi he was far better off heading the ministry of mining and mineral resources he was removed from last year.
“Honourable chair, I just wanted you to note what Honourable Mbatha [Sipho Mbatha] said; the minister looks so demoralised.’’ Malema said, while being ordered to take his seat by House chairperson Thoko Didiza.
The commander-in-chief’s comment followed remarks by EFF MP Sipho Mbatha, who started his question about government’s internship programmes by telling Ramatlhodi he seemed to be bored as chief administrator for public servants.
“Honourable minister, I must say in your previous job you were very eloquent. I think this job is very boring for you,’’ Mbatha said to laughs from MPs.
When asked by some MPs how he knew this, he said “this is true’’, and proceeded with his initial question to the minister.
Mbatha said under Ramatlhodi’s leadership government internships had been “killing the future of young people” because they are paid far less and he was failing to absorb more young people into its internship programmes.
The EFF MP wanted to know when government would create a benchmark for wages paid to interns in order to avoid their exploitation by state departments.
Mbatha said the current pay scales for interns “don’t even feed the chicken in honourable president’s house”, a reference to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead and his taxpayer-funded chicken run.
“That’s not the question Honourable Mbatha!’’ charged Didiza to an interjection from Malema.
He said to Ramatlhodi: “When you were in mining, you were so energetic, I don’t think you like this department honestly.”
Although taken aback by Malema’s joke, the House chair assured the minister under siege “I don’t think that was a question”, while attempting not to laugh.
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From SABC News digital.