Durban - A full sitting of the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg was thrown into chaos on Wednesday when political parties fought over IFP badges worn inside the House.
Members of the ANC raised a point of order with the Speaker, Lydia Johnson, complaining that their IFP counterparts were wearing outfits with their party logo. The turmoil lasted about 30 minutes.
The IFP members, including their parliamentary leader, Blessed Gwala, and party deputy president Mzamo Buthelezi repeatedly refused to adhere to Johnson’s order to remove the badges.
For a while it seemed as if there would be fisticuffs, when ANC MPL Happy Blose threatened to assault an opposition party member who shouted at her to sit down, as she stood to add to the point of order against the IFP.
“I am going to beat you up. Come meet me outside the House so that I will show who I am,” she said, lifting her fist up and walking out of the house.
ANC deputy whip Nontembeko Boyce followed Blose to beg her to calm down and return to the House.
Johnson, meanwhile, kept pleading: “All those wearing party regalia must please remove it.”
Johnson later learnt that Buthelezi had more badges with him, which he had placed in his lap, apparently preparing to distribute them to other IFP members. He told Johnson: “These are IFP badges, they belong to my party.”
The IFP justified its refusal to removed the badges by saying it had seen some ANC MPLs wearing ANC badges.
“This may look like an ANC badge, but in actual fact it belongs to a campaign against social ills,” said one ANC member.
However, later, ANC MPL Jomo Sibiya admitted that he had been wearing a badge with ANC colours and the face of former president Nelson Mandela, which IFP members insisted represented the ANC.
As the squabble continued, Johnson insisted there were no ANC members wearing badges, and issued an instruction to the IFP: “All those wearing party badges must be removed from the House.”
A defiant Gwala shouted back: “We will only leave the House if the man with dreadlocks (Sibiya) also leaves.”
However, when Johnson threatened to summon police to intervene, IFP members complied and finally removed the items.
Gwala labelled the badges “ocuphuchuku”, which loosely translates as “fight provoker”.
He told The Mercury he had ordered the badges be collected from vehicles after he had seen Sibiya wearing an ANC badge.
“We had not taken any decision that today we would wear the badges inside the House, but soon after seeing Sibiya with Mandela’s badge, I sent someone to collect ours in the car,” he said.
“The ANC members always come with their vehicles branded in ANC colours and park them inside the parliament premises, which is unparliamentarian.”
The EFF is known for wearing red attire similar to its official party regalia, but on Wednesday members toned it down.
MPL Vusi Khoza had on a red pullover, while his comrade, Thembi Msani, had a red artificial flower on her chest.
“We started this fight, but when other people get into it we don’t want to be involved,” said Khoza.