MPs’ farewells highlight a tumultuous year

As MPs closed out a torrid year in parliament, state capture, the Guptas and the ANC conference featured strongly in MPs’ farewell speeches.

The farewell speeches are an annual tradition, made on the final day before parliament breaks for the festive season.

In the past they have been lighthearted, but in recent years they have become more serious.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen opened the farewell speeches following on an incident in which ANC MP Mervyn Dirks was accused of assaulting a woman colleague in the house, so his speech took a more sombre tone.

He detailed a “tumultuous” year in which President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet, and the Gupta leaks laid bare “the biggest smash and grab in our democratic history”.

Steenhuisen said parliament had done good work, dealing with the Sassa crisis, the SABC and the Public Enterprises inquiry.

He said MPs were “the last watchmen on the walls of our democracy” at a time when the Hawks were “so captured and compromised that they should be renamed the lovebirds”.

Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu surprised even Speaker Baleka Mbete with a point of order.

Zulu said the speeches seemed political and an opportunity to insult ANC members.

Agang’s Andries Tlouamma, known for his acerbic humour, wished the ANC well at their conference but urged them not to “throw chairs or injure one another”.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu honoured ANC MP Joanmarie Fubbs, turning 73, on her recently published book of poems.

And Steenhuisen quoted one of her poems to close off his speech.

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