Steehnuisen apologises, calm restored at Sona debate

Steenhuisen laid into Tau after he ruled MPs could not be described as being part of factions.

FILE: DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A major row that threatened to throw Day two of debate on the president's State of the Nation Address (Sona) into disarray was earlier resolved.

Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip John Steenhuisen, ordered out of the chamber after refusing to withdraw his statement that House Chair Raseriti Tau was "talking rubbish", hastily apologised.

MPs have been debating the president's speech for a second consecutive day in Parliament.

Steenhuisen laid into Tau after he ruled Members of Parliament (MPs) could not be described as being part of factions.

When DA MPs began shouting for Tau to go, he told all of them to leave.

But they didn't listen.

The unheeded order hung in the air, despite proceedings continuing.

Tempers first flared earlier when Steenhuisen was ordered to leave the house, and he did.

"You are talking complete rubbish now and you are making yourself a joke and turning this house into a joke. You are not fit to sit on that chair. How dare you infringe on his rights of freedom of speech!"

Later there were behind the scenes attempts to resolve the matter.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli reported back a short while ago.

"This is in terms of joint rule 14i, which provides that a member who has been ordered to withdraw from the chamber, may submit to the speaker or the chairperson of the council a written expression of regret. The presiding officers have considered the expression of regret and accepted it."

Steenhuisen was later allowed back.

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