The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, should issue a public apology for comments made on 6 May at the funeral of the school pupils who were so tragically killed in a minibus taxi accident in Mpumalanga.
Mbete’s shameless politicking at the funeral of children is simply indefensible. Furthermore, doing so in the name of Parliament is opportunistic and reprehensible. As the NA Speaker and representative of Parliament, Mbete speaks on behalf of a multi-party institution, not just the ANC. As the Chairperson of the ANC, Mbete may speak her mind, but when she represents Parliament she is held to a far higher standard.
Mbete should be condemned for encouraging children to not speak out about “challenges at home”. In a country that experiences high levels of abuse against women and children, specifically, it is irresponsible for leaders to tell children to “not go outside and [complain]” but instead to “get inside the house and [resolve matters as a family]”.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Mbete would encourage people to not speak out at a time when South Africans are finding their voices and saying ‘enough’ to this government. These organic protests are not just “noise” as Mbete calls them.
The DA disagrees with Mbete and refuses to denigrate those who choose to exercise their democratic rights. South Africans should be encouraged to speak out. Children should not be told to stay silent. The price of silence in South Africa will be more abuse of power, corruption, unbridled state capture and selling out our children’s futures.
John Steenhuisen MP
Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance