Parliament bids farewell to veterans

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Former ANC veteran MP and ethics committee co-chairman Professor Ben Turok. Photo: Supplied

Cape Town -

Parliament has bid farewell to three of its longest-serving members.

ANC veteran Ben Turok, IFP chief whip Koos van der Merwe and DA chief whip Watty Watson - who together represent 170 years in politics - are bowing out.

In his farewell speech, Turok adapted Mark Twain to light-heartedly caution MPs that reports of his retirement were greatly exaggerated: “What I will do as I leave the seat there, I would like you to reserve me a seat up there (in the public gallery) and I shall exercise my right of oversight…

“It’s very difficult to get rid of me.”

He admitted to a trick to enliven debates: “When you see the House is not paying attention, all you have to do is to provoke the DA. They rise to the bait like fish…

“I want to confess I have used this trick many times, especially in the days of (DA MP) Mike Ellis. If I called him a capitalist, he would call me a communist.”

On a more serious note, Turok appealed to MPs to unite around meeting economic development challenges.

Van der Merwe closed a chapter on 60 years in politics, and announced he would be writing a book on his decades in Parliament under seven presidencies. “I’ll be writing about my life in Parliament (from apartheid to now). “I have seen the whole movie,” he said.

Watson delivered his swan song, “not to say just good-bye, but farewell” after 50 years in politics.

“I have an admission to make: I don’t have a good story to tell because we in the DA stick to the facts,” he quipped.

Cape Argus


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