Delivering a farewell address at the end of the final 2014 sitting of the House, she condemned the “senseless behaviour, mudslinging and character assassination” which, she said, had characterised the country’s Fifth Parliament.
“The behaviour that has been displayed in this House, where the rules have constantly been undermined to push an agenda of defiance and disruption, is indeed a very dangerous phenomenon in the life of our democracy.
“We have witnessed how tension has escalated to violence in this House; and we have witnessed a clear disregard for the presiding officers… who are tasked with ensuring [it] functions effectively.”
Dlakude called on MPs to refrain from putting South Africa’s future in jeopardy.
“We have witnessed such senseless behaviour, mudslinging, and character assassination, which have inflicted much damage – not just to the affected individuals, but mostly to the reputation and credibility of this institution.”
Instead of promoting tolerance, members had allowed the House to descend into “chaos and absolute mayhem”.
Dlakude also took apparent aim at Economic Freedom Fighters MPs, who had earlier left the House following a tension-filled debate that saw the adoption of a report calling for some of their members to be suspended.
“Those who came here to wilfully, and with disdain, disrupt the proceedings of this House, should not interfere with those who have come to serve the people of this country.”
Earlier, MPs from other parties struck a similar sombre note in their traditional end-of-year farewell speeches.
Freedom Front Chief Whip Corne Mulder noted Parliament had been through a “very rough seven months” since the elections earlier this year.
“If we expect people to respect us, we should set an example of how we behave ourselves in the House.”
He too called on MPs to consider whether they were upholding voters’ expectations of how their representatives should behave.
Democratic Alliance MP Thembekile Majola reflected on the dignity of the institution.
“The dignity and decorum of this House has been pushed to its limits and beyond,” he said.
African People’s Convention MP Themba Godi noted that the public were not impressed with MPs’ behaviour.
“Everywhere one goes, there is hardly a good word or impression about this House, and us as members. This is due to the schoolyard behaviour of some among us.
“There appears to be a definite intent to render the House ungovernable by undermining and frustrating everything,” he said.