Cape Town – This year was eventful but Parliament in 2017 is going to be even more vibrant because of the EFF, chief whip Floyd Shivambu said on Wednesday.
Giving his farewell speech in the National Assembly on the last day of sittings, Shivambu detailed some of the EFF’s successes for the year.
The payment made by President Jacob Zuma for the non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead was one of their achievements, he said.
Other achievements included the election of 836 councillors and the dent to the ANC’s hold on power in local government.
“Three years into existence and we have 836 councillors at local government level. We want to assure people we the EFF is still here,” he said.
The next year was going to be even better as they worked to whittle away more of the ANC’s support, he told MPs.
Mthembu thanked for his efforts
“Lastly I call on the students, when 2017 begins, you must continue with the struggle to demand fee free education for all,” he concluded.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen paid tribute to ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu and thanked him for his approach to his role as well as the courage he had displayed this year.
“You fight your party corner with great vigour but your simultaneous willingness to listen to other parties and, above all, to disagree without being disagreeable has heralded a new era of relations in the whippery of our Parliament. We have opposed each other vehemently on a range of issues but I want to acknowledge you and your deputy chief whip Dlakude as worthy opponents and thank you for your efforts this year,” he said.
This year has had its challenges, he said.
“2017 will be no less intense politically and we must guard against the language and conduct in this House that reverses the much more important project that we know we are all engaged in.”
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe called on the MPs to ask God for wisdom and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
Praise for Buthelezi
UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said working together MPs were stronger than the challenges faced this year.
“But there were many times when we allowed our differences, which are more imagined than real, to stand in the way of us building a South Africa where we all look forward to the sunrise of tomorrow,” he said.
Parliament was inwardly focused with MPs fighting amongst themselves this year, he said, on issues that had little to do with the betterment of the lives of South Africans.
Mthembu thanked IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for his words of wisdom in a trying year.
“Even when most of us lost our heads, you did not lose your sanity,” he said.
Mthembu, along with Speaker Baleka Mbete, paid tribute to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
It was a bittersweet moment, Mthembu said, to be able to honour him through Parliament.