Shabangu tells MPs to shut up
Johannesburg - The parliamentary debate on the Marikana shootings momentarily descended into a game of mudslinging between rival politicians in which Mining Minister Susan Shabangu snapped and told MPs to “shut up”.
The debate on Tuesday, which was initiated by ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, was meant to mark the death of at least 44 people and the injuries of many others following an industrial dispute at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg.
Shabangu hit back at Cope’s Mosioua Lekota who had effectively accused her of favouring the National Union of Mineworkers in her intervention in the dispute.
He accused Shabangu of leaving out the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) despite its key role in the conflict.
Shabangu accused Lekota of unleashing the army on Khutsong residents during his tenure as defence minister when the township’s residence resisted the changes in the Gauteng/North West boundary.
Shabangu defended her actions, saying she had not been aware of Amcu’s existence.
She was called to order by a fellow MP when she snapped and ordered opposition MPs to “shut up” when they laughed or murmured in response to her remarks.
“The difference between us and all of you is that we don’t engage [in mediation] publicly,’’ she told the House.
Lekota denied the Khutsong claim and said that whatever he did at the time was in his capacity as an ANC minister.
An MP objected to Shabangu’s remarks and parliamentary Speaker Max Sisulu said he would make a ruling on the issue.
DA spokesperson on police issues Dianne Kohler Barnard called for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s resignation, describing him as an “empty suit”.
Otherwise the mood remained sombre.
Motshekga said the use of violence demeaned people’s humanity.
“In this period of national mourning, we need to be able to call for cool heads, for calm and rational dialogue to prevail and to commit to ensuring that we never witness another Marikana tragedy again,” he said.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko called for the resignation of the leaders of the unions and the management of Lonmin.
She also said the commission of inquiry, announced by President Jacob Zuma, should not to be reduced to an internal inquiry.
“Although the searing images of this tragedy will remind us of Sharpeville and Boipatong, let us not forget South Africa today is a different country,” she said.
“The rule of law must be allowed to take its course unhindered.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa slammed the tactics police used to disperse the striking workers.
“Sadly ... Marikana massacre-type incidents are here to stay, unless we do away with the deployment of people with no professional police background to senior SAPS levels to command juniors with military training,” he said.
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe wanted to know why live ammunition was used despite an order “by way of a memorandum in December last year [for police] not to shoot at protesters with live ammunition”.
Mthethwa told Parliament that memorial services for the dead would be held all over the country on Thursday.