CAPE TOWN, December 1 – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is considering what action to take to against rebel ruling African National Congress (ANC) MP and agitator Mervyn Dirks who allegedly insulted and threatened a female colleague, Parliament said on Friday.
“The Speaker is in the process of determining a suitable course of action. This could include referring the matter to an appropriate committee of Parliament for further investigation and decision,” Parliament said in a statement.
“The alleged threatening gestures fly in the face of the 16 Days of Activism during which society is raising awareness about violence against women and children and calling on men, particularly, to challenge behaviour and norms that condone violence.”
A scuffle during Thursday night’s National Assembly sitting, the last of 2017, could be seen in the back benches of the ANC. Dirks is alleged to have attacked fellow ANC MP Thozama Mantashe.
While the presiding officer did not see the incident and said he could not act, Dirks was eventually booted from the chamber after showing his middle finger to opposition party members.
Parliament said MPs are expected to uphold Constitutional values.
“It is to the Constitution that Members pledge allegiance before starting their duties as parliamentarians. The founding values of the Constitution – such as human dignity, advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism and non-sexism – find expression also in the Code of Ethical Conduct for Members, which requires members to promote and support ethical conduct by their leadership and example,” the statement said
“In this context, the alleged conduct of Mr Dirks is highly concerning and cannot be condoned.”
The statement from Parliament follows one from the office of the ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.
Mthembu wrote a letter to the Speaker asking for a probe into the incident.
“If found to be true, these actions cannot go unpunished,” Mthembu’s office said.
The chief whip had also written to the secretary general of the ANC to ask that disciplinary action be brought against Dirks for “gross misconduct and bringing the organisation into disrepute”.
“It is very regrettable that while observing 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse, a male member of parliament would threaten to assault a female member in Parliament.”
Dirks’ behaviour came two days after he and a group of other ANC members tried to scupper a debate into state capture. The evening before this sitting, this same group of ruling party MPs had accused Mthembu of siding with the opposition and being part of a “pro-white monopoly capital” faction within the ANC, something even the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa had called ill-discipline on the part of the MPs.
– African News Agency (ANA)