The month of September is almost nearing its end following a slew of political developments that aptly gave testament to the notion that there’s never a dull day in the politics of our country.
With the African National Congress (ANC) continuing to dominate the news cycle from its fallout subsequent to the August 3 local elections to the reality of the Democratic Alliance (DA) being in government outside the Western Cape, and of course the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) renewed political mileage enabled by its kingmaker status, it’s still all happening.
Amid the political manoeuvrings and alliances formed for the sake of expediency, are some rather peculiar statements made by politicians that got tongues wagging and which showcase the political theatre that has come to define parliament and its lighter moments.
Here are the eight most ‘bizarre’ comments made by newsmakers this month (in no particular order):
‘You were so energetic’ as mining minister, Malema tells Ramatlhodi
EFF leader Julius Malema pulled no punches in parliament early into September when former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi become the butt of his party’s jokes during the governance cluster’s question-and-answer session in the National Assembly.
Malema told Ramatlhodi (reshuffled to public service and administration last year) that he was “boring” and had fared better heading the ministry of mining.
It would have been conceivable three years ago that the days of the ANC marching on itself ended with the purge of Malema and his supporters from the ANC Youth League, but the #OccupyLuthuliHouse march organised by members of the Gauteng ANC to Luthuli House was something never before witnessed.
The group’s organisers presented a memorandum of their demands for President Jacob Zuma to step down along with the entire national executive committee to secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Introducing government’s newly flavoured “Max”condoms was Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament. He had the opportunity to put his sales hat on, although some MPs apparently shouted that he should give his condoms to Zuma.
Brandishing the condoms, Ramaphosa said they were much quieter and “Max is for maximum pleasure, maximum protection”.
ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela raised eyebrows after she chanted the name of the EFF along with that of the ANC and prompted questions about her political allegiances to her political home, the ANC.
“Amandla [power]! Viva ANC viva! Viva Cosatu viva! Viva [ANC] Youth League viva! Amandla! Viva EFF viva!” said said to some people in the crowd booing.
Madikizela-Mandela also managed to reunite political foes Malema and Ramaphosa in a picture at one of her 80th birthday celebrations at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.
Undoubtedly the biggest debacle this month was Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s lie that Cabinet had adopted the recommendations of an interministerial committee he headed for a judicial commission of inquiry into the banks, following their decision to cut ties with Gupta-owned company Oakbay Investments earlier this year.
The presidency later distanced itself from the minister’s statement, saying he acted in his personal capacity. However, even though there were calls for Zuma to discipline him, this never happened.
When Malema referred to South African Airways (SAA) chairperson as “Dudu Myeni Zuma” in Parliament, he caught the ire of ANC MPs who said it was disrespectful to call a married woman that. Malema said she had earnt the title because of her alleged close relationship and protection from President Zuma.
At the weekend, the ANCYL curiously also referred to Myeni as “Dudu Myeni Zuma” during a press conference following a meeting of their national executive committee. Did they do it on purpose or were they just a bit confused?
Staying with parliament, Zuma surprised many when he said each time he appeared before the National Assembly he was “abused” by opposition MPs. He charged that “instead of answering questions‚ I am called a criminal … a thief. This House has to do something.”
With unrest at the country’s universities over government’s decision to allow tertiary institutions to determine their own fee increases, last week, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said that if he were minister of higher education, he would shut down universities to teach protesting students a lesson.
“They are not doing anybody a favour,” Mantashe said on the sidelines of the SA Clothing Textile and Allied Workers’ Union congress in Cape Town.