IN an afternoon of high drama, COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota was kicked out of the National Assembly for refusing to withdraw a remark that President Jacob Zuma had violated his constitutional obligations.
Lekota angered ANC benches two weeks ago during the debate on the presidency budget vote when he accused Zuma of failing to uphold his constitutional obligations by not protecting the rights of artist Brett Murray and City Press editor Ferrial Haffajee.
Murray got in trouble for a controversial painting depicting the president with his genitals exposed and Haffajee was slated for refusing to remove an image of the painting from her newspaper’s website.
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande objected to Lekota’s remarks, saying an accusation that the president had violated the constitution was so serious it could warrant the removal of the head of state. He said such an allegation could only be raised in a separate substantive motion.
In her ruling yesterday Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo ordered Lekota to withdraw his remarks. "Honourable Lekota your remarks that the president has violated his oath of office are out of order and I now ask you to please withdraw them,” Mfeketo said.
Lekota however refused to withdraw his remarks, saying he disagreed with Mfeketo’s ruling on the matter.
"The point that we make as to why the president broke his oath of office remains valid in our view and I am unable, therefore, to withdraw,” Lekota said.
Mfeketo then ordered him to leave the house when the COPE leader persisted to argue that he would not withdraw his remarks.
Opposition MPs attempted to challenge the ruling, but their objections fell on deaf ears.
When Lekota eventually left the National Assembly, he was followed by a large section of opposition MPs.
Only IFP MPs remained.