Mbete debate heats up in Parliament

Opposition parties have been accused of being sexist for bringing a motion of no-confidence in Mbete.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties have been accused of being sexist for bringing a motion of no-confidence in National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane led the African National Congress (ANC)'s attack.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Congress of the People, United Democratic Movement and the Freedom Front Plus are backing a motion of no-confidence in a bid to unseat Mbete, who they claim cannot act impartiality while also serving as African National Congress (ANC) chairperson.

The opposition parties believe that Mbete is too loyal to the ruling party.

DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane focused on Mbete's conflict of interest as Speaker and also ANC chairperson.

"She cannot serve as leader of the ANC and a neutral speaker in this house. The conflict of interest is untenable."

Mokonyane hit back.

"We are here today, amongst others, to reassert and defend the hard won struggle for the emancipation of women and the right of the majority not to be undermined by a minority."

EFF Member of Parliament Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala reiterated her party's call for a retired judge to be speaker, saying they'd be beyond influence.

Earlier, Maimane fired the opening salvoes in the fiery debate.

Maimane said Mbete is merely helping President Jacob Zuma cover up for the spending on upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

"Mbete has been deployed to make sure Zuma doesn't have to answer tough questions in this Parliament."

He also told the National Assembly that Mbete is placing the ANC before South Africa.

He said the speaker has sold out Parliament to her masters in Luthuli House and warned against South Africa becoming another Lesotho.

The EFF attempted to interject but party leader Julius Malema was warned to be quiet.

He was angry in his response.

"We are not going to be told how to behave instead of you calling those people to order because they are showing signs of intimidation, they are even intimidating us."