Deputy President David Mabuza responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

PARLIAMENT -  South African Deputy President David Mabuza's maiden question-and-answer session in Parliament got off to a rocky start on Tuesday, as Members of Parliament (MPs) accused him of not answering questions, and another sneaked in a question about recurring allegations the former Mpumalanga Premier was behind political assassinations in his home province.

Six questions, given to Mabuza in advance, were put to him, including one on his role as being the champion of South Africa's moral regeneration campaign.  

It was a supplementary question by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP John Steenhuisen about the "morally repugnant scourge of political assassinations", rambling off the names of murdered politicians whose names have been linked to the former premier's, that saw ruling African National Congress (ANC) MPs accusing the opposition of "casting aspersions" on the deputy president.

Mabuza challenged Steenhuisen to contact the authorities and provide them with information about political killings.

"If members here have any information about the political killings everywhere, please confront the law enforcement agencies and report all. If you know, go to the nearest police station and lay a charge," he said.

"Lay a charge, you are allowed but laying a charge means you must substantiate. It's easy to cast aspersions, it's not easy to substantiate on your allegations."

Later on during the Q&A session, Agang SA MP Andries Plouamma was booted from the House for referring to the deputy president as lacking "credibility". 

"It's unfortunate that you are not a good example of a moral leadership. You lack credibility. I want to know if yourself you have been rehabilitated..." Plouamma asked.

After repeatedly being asked to withdraw his remarks, Plouamma refused to "withdraw the truth", leading to him being asked to leave the chamber.

Another supplementary question from the DA regarding the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank and preventing illicit financial flows also saw some back and forth accusations being hurled across the floor.

Mabuza said the question was not related to what was asked on the question paper, and indicated he would not answer.

"The privatisation of the Reserve Bank is not the question I am here for. If you want me to probably answer that question, I can do so outside the Q&A," said Mabuza.

The DA objected with Steenhuisen, demanding answers or else it would be akin to "reducing this to a joke. 

"This is not accountability," charged Steenhuisen.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said it was his view the deputy president had given his answer. This incensed Steenhuisen more, who demanded an official ruling.

"Make a ruling, not your view that this is a new question...so that we can take you to the rules committee and teach you a lesson," the opposition MP threatened. 

Tsenoli responded angrily.

"I will not make a ruling, precisely because of the way you've done it. I'll teach you a lesson here," said Tsenoli.

ANC MPs said they were tired of the "DA's tantrums".

If past years are anything to go by and the tone of Mabuza's first interaction with MPs continues, some boisterous and hostile Q&As could follow in 2018.
 
African News Agency/ANA