- The Covid-19 pandemic has cast a pall over MPs’ farewell speeches.
- Covid-19 corruption was condemned.
- The parliamentary staff was praised for keeping the legislator going through the lockdown.
“We have to help rebuild a country,” National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise told MPs on Friday evening in the House’s last order of the year – farewell speeches.
It came as little surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic cast a pall over the farewell speeches.
Parliament lost some of its members to the virus and many of the participants paid their respects to their fallen colleagues.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina could be seen wiping tears away when her deputy, Doris Dlakude, thanked her for the care she showed to the MPs who died and those who became sick.Â
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ACDP MP Steve Swart, one of the first MPs to be infected with the virus, said he was deeply moved by the messages of support he received from across the political spectrum.
Some speakers also condemned Covid-19-related corruption.
‘Burn in hell’
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the perpetrators should be arrested, tried and convicted, and the keys to their jail cells should be flushed down the toilet.
“Unfortunately, some people saw a gap to into those funds to enrich themselves,” said ANC MP Doris Dlakude. “Those people will burn hell.”
Modise said those who stole from the poor did not deserve to be called true South Africans.
“We must stand resolute as this House against corruption,” she added.
Speakers were complimentary to Modise and the other presiding officers and in particularly Parliament’s staff.
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“It is wonderful that they managed to keep Parliament going,” said FF Plus whip CornÃ© Mulder.
“The parliamentary staff have done exceptionally well,” said NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam.
IFP whip Narend Singh, however, said Parliament could have done better in holding the executive to account.
The farewell speeches are traditionally where MPs bury the hatchet, reflect on the year that was and wish each other well for the festive season and following year. This was the case again, with the exception of the EFF, who were as Mulder said, without naming them, out of step.
Earlier in the sitting, several EFF MPs were expelled from the virtual platform after hurling insults at Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who also had to withdraw his remark that they were not honourable members.
Lead by example
EFF MP Sinawo Tambo congratulated the “student command” for victories in SRC elections, and the EFF for contributing the most to the Solidarity Fund. He also lambasted the government.
“What is evident about the activities and developments of 2020 is that the ANC government does not have the capacity, will and determination to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of black people,” he said.
“The people of South Africa should always bear in mind that the EFF is the only organisation that cares and has built capacity to provide quality alternative governance to the mediocrity and neglect our people are subjected to,” he alleged.
Mazzone said Parliament had to fight the hate “peddled by the extreme left and extreme right”.
“Let us, as Parliament, be an example of how hate is eradicated.”
Modise saw a silver lining to 2020’s dark clouds, saying many of the long-serving MPs would not be able to recall a time when they spent more than a month in their own homes.
She added for many this was an opportunity to “re-bond” with their families.
For the most part though, MPs viewed 2020 as one of hardship and challenges, an annus horribilis, as Singh described it.
Mazzone, in concluding her speech, said: “Allow me to end by saying something totally unparliamentary: 2020, ‘tsek!”
Modise did not sanction her for this “unparliamentary” language.