Mbete declares war on 'cockroach' Malema
Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly and a central figure in this week's state of the nation debacle, yesterday called Julius Malema "a cockroach" and said the ANC should prepare to fight the EFF.
Speaking at the ANC's North West provincial conference - two days after the violent behaviour in parliament when EFF MPs were forcibly evicted from the National Assembly chamber - Mbete warned party members to prepare for war.
"If we don't work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place," Mbete said at the Mmabatho Civic Centre in Mafikeng.
Malema said last night: "I think Baleka is calling for my assassination. If I'm killed tomorrow people must know I was killed by Baleka and the ANC. We know what happened to people who were called cockroaches in Rwanda. I am not scared. I am not used by third forces. Members of the EFF must also ready themselves [to fight back]. No one has a monopoly over violence.
"The ANC created a military wing that never fought anywhere. Who are they to threaten people with violence? They couldn't wage war against the most brutal apartheid regime. We are asking genuine questions that need answers. Baleka is hallucinating."
Mbete's comments were reported by the Mail&Guardian Online on Saturday.
Mbete, whose behaviour in parliament on Thursday drew harsh criticism when she repeatedly called the security personnel to remove Malema and his EFF MPs, also told her North West audience that they should prepare themselves for an onslaught in the provincial legislatures and municipalities.
According to Mbete, the EFF planned to behave lawlessly at these institutions after its aggression in parliament.
"They want to - in their words - collapse parliament so they can force this country to an early election. They want to take this country so that they must take over the mines and share them with friends they were seen galavanting with in Europe.
"My question is where will we be when they do that? Who do they think they are," Mbete asked, inferring that Malema and his members were being influenced by the West.
"Don't ever think what's happening in parliament has got nothing to do with you in branches. Those thugs there are going to come to provinces to run a similar campaign, not only in legislatures but also in municipalities," she said.
"You must teach our children not to be misled by those wearing red overalls. Those people (EFF) are not working with people of this country alone, they are pawns in a bigger scheme of things where some western governments are involved."
Clearly unabashed about the unseemly events of Thursday night, Mbete took great delight in describing to her provincial colleagues how the ANC had subdued the EFF. Her utterances yesterday are likely to strengthen criticism that she is an unsuitable Speaker and should step down.
"The president finally delivered his address after we have had actually a beautiful opportunity to deal with those irritants," Mbete said.
DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said Mbete again revealed herself to be partisan. "She is unfit to be a Speaker of the National Assembly. Even though we disagree with the EFF antics, any member of parliament deserves a modicum of respect.
"We will report her to the parliamentary powers and privileges committee. She cannot continue as Speaker."
Mbete's comments yesterday sharpened the response of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who defended the high-handed approach against the EFF, saying Malema's plans to disrupt Zuma's speech were tantamount to staging a coup.
"When you disrupt parliament to a point of collapse, that is technically a coup ... You make it unworkable. You are saying the ANC must allow a coup to take place," Mantashe said.
He said that if EFF MPs try to disrupt proceedings during the debate on Zuma's speech this week, they would have to be thrown out again.
"They can ask any question when there is a debate. They can ask that question 10 times. The president will respond. If they disrupt a response, they are depriving society to get responses.
"They must still be told to leave the House. If they don't, they must be removed. Because it is not about them, it is about society. Parliament is not for the EFF, it is for society," said Mantashe.
It has also emerged that parliament had been fully prepared to deal with Malema's attempts to disrupt Zuma's address.
In the three days leading up to the speech, police and members of parliament's security staff conducted a simulation of the forceful removal of the EFF MPs from the National Assembly chamber on three occasions from Monday to Wednesday.
The SAPS members were from the public order policing unit, the national intervention unit and the counter-assault team.
According to some of the participants in the operation, members of the presidential protection unit also attended the "rehearsals" as observers.
Security officers who attended say parliament's senior protocol officer, Zarena Croese, assumed the role of Speaker Baleka Mbete by occupying her chair in the chamber and barking orders to security officers and police officers who played the role of EFF MPs.
Senior managers in parliament's protection services division, Deon van der Spuy and Eugene Stevens, took turns assuming the role of serjeant-at-arms.
On the night of the president's speech, about 100 police officers and eight parliamentary security officers were divided into groups of four - each standing ready to move into the chambers from the four doors surrounding the House as soon as Mbete shouted the instruction.
"The plan was specifically designed to deal with the EFF. We were told it has to be a swift operation. Communication was done through the allocated two-way radios," said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Zuma had barely made it through the greetings in his speech when EFF member Godrich Gardee rose on a point of privilege, which ultimately led to a fist-fight that saw the party dragged out of the National Assembly and EFF MP Reneilwe Mashabela being hospitalised with a broken nose.
Mbete only named Malema, Floyd Shivambu and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, but all the EFF members were dragged out.
The three balked and dug in their heels, with Malema declaring: "I am not going to leave."
What the public watching on TV did not see was the vicious scuffle that ensued.
Police and parliamentary security stood to attention while the serjeant-at-arms huddled near Malema, trying to negotiate the three out of the chamber. But when it became clear they could not be persuaded, the security forces stepped in.
In more than one instance, groups of three or more security guards could be seen attacking single EFF members, sometimes from behind.
Ndlozi, who was initially seen holding back members from throwing punches, later started fighting back, using his red EFF hard hat to land his blows, which could be heard from the press gallery. Several other EFF MPs used their hats too.
Many ANC members cheered and shouted as all the EFF members were removed.
The Sunday Times has also established that the lack of drinking water for MPs at the start of the proceedings was part of the security precautions.
Security officials feared that irate EFF MPs would use their drinking glasses to attack those who had come to remove them.
A decision was taken not to provide water to the House.
That decision was only reversed following a complaint from MPs - even then only bottled water was served.
Although Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise said an investigation would soon be conducted on who had authorised the jamming of cellphone networks on the day, security staff in parliament insist it was done with the knowledge of their bosses.
The jamming of the signal heightened tension as the nation waited for Zuma's arrival.
Journalists, frustrated by the inability to do their work as a result, started chanting "bring back the signal". They were later joined by opposition MPs.
State Security spokesman Brian Dube this week denied minister David Mahlobo's involvement in the jamming controversy despite several journalists saying they saw the minister leave the House after getting a note from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Soon thereafter, the signal was unjammed.
"The minister did not leave the House after the president had entered," Dube said.
Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said that while the signal jamming may have been allowed for state security departments, it raised serious concerns about constitutionality and the separation of powers.
He said that if it emerged that Mahlobo or any member of the executive had okayed the jamming, this would present "a serious problem in terms of the separation of powers".
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said he left the House when security forces were deployed .
"I was thinking, does this mean this is an authoritarian state which has arrived unannounced in the country?"
Former president Thabo Mbeki, who was present in the public gallery when the disruptions began, told students in Pretoria that he was "troubled" by what he witnessed.
"I sat in the same hall from 1994 to 2008 and either listened to or participated in making many state of the nation addresses and nothing of the sort ever happened," Mbeki said.
He argued for a political solution to the fight between the ANC and EFF in parliament.