Anti-gay lawmaker on the ropes
Attempts to remove the freedom of sexual orientation clause from the constitution have caused a stir in parliament.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, went as far as calling for the recusal of ANC MP Patekile Holomisa, who jointly chairs the constitutional review committee.
Last month, Sisulu wrote a letter to co-chairman Holomisa, asking him to step down from his position before submissions from the Mpumalanga Provincial House of Traditional Leaders to amend the equal rights clause in the Bill of Rights were heard.
The Mpumalanga body is part of the National House of Traditional Leaders.
"You will appreciate that your membership of the National House of Traditional Leaders could be perceived as a conflict of interest. Consideration could therefore be given to your recusal when the matter serves before the committee," said Sisulu.
However, Holomisa and his co-chair, Bafumani Aaron Mnguni have vehemently denied any involvement with the National House of Traditional Leaders.
"I think the speaker was ill-informed, I'm not a member of the National House of Traditional Leaders," said Holomisa.
Mnguni said: "The speaker's letter was off the mark as far as we are concerned. Nkosi Holomisa is the president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa.
"We will draft the letter [to the speaker] as soon as possible."
Sisulu's spokesman, Luzuko Jacobs, said communication between the speaker and the committee was an internal matter.
"If there are any concerns on the part of the chair or the committee itself, they must take it up with the speaker directly," he said.
Sisulu's letter followed a submission from gay rights lobby group the SA Constitution Protection Coalition, which said Holomisa had, by accepting the proposal from his "peers" in the house of traditional leaders, not "lived up" to the responsibilities of his committee.
But Mnguni staunchly supported his colleague,
"It was wrong of the gay community, they jumped the gun to say Nkosi Holomisa, [and] the committee have accepted that they are going to change the sexual orientation clause."
The submission to exclude the clause was merely an administrative exercise and political parties were currently caucusing on the matter, he said.
"That it [the freedom of sexual orientation] won't be protected by the constitution . The committee will never do that," he said.
Holomisa said it was the right of any organisation or individual to make submissions and to oppose them.
"If any people are opposed to any of the submissions made, that has to be discussed. Those who support homosexuality will have to be given an opportunity as well as those who are opposed to it," he said.
Holomisa would not be drawn on his views on homosexuality or whether his involvement in the committee might prejudice discussions. "Why should that be important?" he asked.
Holomisa has been widely reported as refusing to condone homosexuality. It is said he advocates that most South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
On these grounds the DA has also called for Holomisa to be removed as chairman of the constitutional review committee.