Baleka Mbete’s cockroach comments were wrong, ill-informed, and should not be uttered by anyone, including, and especially someone who is occupying her position: Speaker of Parliament.
Although it would still be wrong, I’d rather President Jacob Zuma had maybe called Julius Malema and his fellow MPs cockroaches than Mbete. Of course such comments are read together with what happened in the early 90s in Rwandan genocide. I am not saying anyone else should call others cockroach. Even in 2011 when Malema called Helen Zille cockroach – after which President Zuma took to the podium at the same venue as Malema – I warned against this, and even suggested at the time that maybe that is what Malema was taught at ANC’s Political School which he was supposed to have been attending during that period following a recommendation of the ANC Disciplinary Inquiry against him.
Zuma did not say anything or warned Malema for referring to Zille as a cockroach. That was wrong of Zuma too. Anyway, what did one expect from Zuma – he is the same person on whose behalf Malema went around the country and insulted those who differed with him, to the point of saying he will kill for Zuma. So, I did say something about Malema’s cockroach comment to Zille in 2011. 2015 should not be any different.
Mbete should have known better. She should have known that such comments would be frowned upon by all. Worse, she should have known better that such comments would be used by her detractors – especially opposition parties in Parliament – in seeking her resignation as Parly Speaker given her questionable impartiality and apparent bias towards the ANC and President Zuma in particular. She cannot claim she is not our equal and needs to be respected yet she has the nerve to call others cockroaches and expect respect. Respect is earned. And she certainly did not earn any with her cockroach comments.
When opposition parties last year asked that she be removed as Speaker or that she resigns, I did not agree with them. But her comments over the weekend really disappointed me to the point of finding myself only now agreeing with opposition parties that she must resign and or be removed as Parliament Speaker. Additionally, I believe no opposition political party should actually allow Mbete to chair the Post-SONA2015 Debate that is to be held soon mainly because of her comments.
Irrespective of where and when she said what she said – including whether she was off and or on duty as Parliament Speaker – Mbete’s views about EFF will not change. She will always, and for the rest of her live, I think, see EFF and or any of its MPs and members as such: irritating cockroaches that need more than just a Doom to be dealt with. Even an apology will not fix the damage and embarrassment her comments have already done not only to herself as a senior ANC NEC member, but also as Speaker of Parliament.
There are certain things that we, as a society, really need to acknowledge: some of our positions, privately and or publicly, are quite limiting in terms of what we do and or say. These include the Speaker of Parliament, Chapter 9 institutions Heads, Judges, Ministers, MECs, the President, CEOs, etc. Importantly, some of these positions require self-restraint and knowing when to talk and when not to. Yes, there is a right to freedom of expression and opinion for everyone, its limitations notwithstanding. But we cannot always go around saying things and hide behind this right.
Last year, you’d recall Mbete told Malema that she is not his equal, suggesting Malema should respect her. In response, Malema said in Parliament, they (she and Mbete) are equals. Malema was right. Now, she is the one going around the country, telling her comrades in North West and by implication in other parts of the country, that Malema and his EFF MPs/members who she had thrown out of Parliament days earlier were cockroaches that must be squashed with whatever is at the disposal of ANC members (emphasis).
I have previously expressed and will continue to express my disappointment and or disgust at the uncalled for behaviour of any political party and or its members in Parliament and or outside of Parliament, on and or off duty.
Mbete has demonstrated, in my view, that she cannot be trusted and cannot any longer allowed to be Speaker of Parliament and therefore should step down.