Cape Town - “This was the worst year, there can be nothing worse than this,” Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said on Wednesday, reflecting on the year in politics, while the ANC lamented the “death of quality opposition” in Parliament.
Lekota said the performance of the ruling party had been “appalling”.
“The crisis that set in in the ruling party and in the alliance overflowed into government,” Lekota told media at Parliament.
The controversy over upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence, reported to be costing R248 million, had contributed to making this year “the worst”.
The constitution and the rights it protected had been under attack, including in the ANC’s reaction to the controversial painting The Spear by artist Brett Murray, which depicted Zuma with exposed genitals.
When the ANC leadership, including members of the cabinet, had begun to “rear their heads” in attacking Murray, opposition parties “couldn’t escape the responsibility” to react.
“It was an attack in fact on constitutionally enshrined rights, it was our responsibility,” said Lekota, who earlier this year likened the ANC’s march to the Goodman Gallery, where the painting was on show, to tactics used in Nazi Germany.
Asked to rate the overall performance of the ANC, Lekota said he would give it one-and-a-half out of 10.
He gave his own party eight out of 10 for defending the constitution, while admitting it could have done some things differently and better.
But ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga’s spokesman, Molotho Mothapo, said his party had done well, especially in Parliament.
While disagreeing with opposition parties on some issues, the ANC’s approach to a multi-party democracy was based on building relationships, even with the opposition.
These relationships were necessary “to ensure we keep Parliament operational”, Mothapo said.
He accused the DA leadership of failing Parliament, however.
While his party had tried to foster good relations with the DA, its parliamentary leadership was “hostile and at times personal. It has been very unhelpful,” Mothapo said.
He referred to a particularly rowdy sitting when Lekota was ordered from the National Assembly after accusing President Jacob Zuma of ignoring a court order to hand over recordings of intercepted conversations that were used by the National Prosecuting Authority to justify the dropping of corruption charges against him.
Lekota had called for Zuma to be impeached for this and refused to withdraw his statement when asked to do so by Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo.
Shouting and banging on desks ensued.
Mothapo accused DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and chief whip Watty Watson of leading opposition parties in the “protest”, which had disrupted proceedings.
He also accused Watson of mistaking his role as the opposition chief whip, saying it was not to constantly oppose Motshekga.
Watson and Mazibuko’s behaviour in Parliament had been a “reflection of the death of quality opposition”, Mothapo said.
“You cannot have a leader who leads a caucus in disruptive behaviour,” he said.
Watson, meanwhile, said he was not surprised by these comments as Motshekga was “fighting for his survival” after his poor performance this year.
Motshekga had failed in his role as chief whip by being absent from the majority of meetings he was meant to chair, Watson added.
He had also blocked crucial debates from taking place, including on the recent motion of no confidence in Zuma. “Under his guidance we had five debates of importance and at least 60 of frivolous substance,” Watson said.