Johannesburg – The ANC yesterday welcomed its chairperson Baleka Mbete’s apology for calling EFF leader Julius Malema a cockroach.
“The African National Congress welcomes the decision by the national chairperson of the ANC, comrade Baleka Mbete, to withdraw her remarks of calling Julius Malema a ‘cockroach’,” the party’s Zizi Kodwa said.
“Her withdrawal is an indication that she has accepted public concerns for her remark.”
Mbete apologised yesterday.
“I apologise unconditionally, to South Africans, to Parliament and Honourable Julius Malema for any hurt or harm I may have caused,” she said in a statement.
“If we don’t work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place,” the Mail&Guardian online quoted her as saying at an African National Congress North West congress on the weekend.
Yesterday Mbete said she had thought long and hard about her words.
“I have concluded that my remarks, all offending statements I made, were inappropriate. The manner in which they came across was unfortunate and regrettable.”
She withdrew the remarks unreservedly.
The Economic Freedom Fighters could not immediately be reached for their response to Mbete’s apology.
During Tuesday’s debate on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, supported by Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu, said Mbete should withdraw the remark.
Malema asked National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise to rule on the matter ahead of the debate.
“The Speaker said somewhere that members are cockroaches . . . and we want that clarified before we proceed,” he said.
Modise said she could not make a ruling and could not apologise on Mbete’s behalf.
“What I can do is convey the sentiment and the message of this House to the Speaker.” — Sapa