CAPE TOWN. — Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete yesterday apologised for remarks made at the weekend where she referred to EFF leader Julius Malema as a cockroach. In an official ANC statement, Mbete said she withdraws her remarks unreservedly. 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 apologised unconditionally to South Africans, to Parliament, and to Malema.
According to a News24 report, Mbete, addressing the party in the North West’s eighth provincial congress on Saturday, said, “If we don’t work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place”.
Malema later claimed that Mbete was calling for his assassination.
He said “I think Baleka is calling for my assassination.
“If I am killed tomorrow people must know I was killed by Baleka and the ANC . . . We know what happened to people who were called cockroaches in Rwanda. I am not scared. I am not used by third forces. Members of the EFF must also ready themselves (to fight back),” a report said.
The EFF yesterday welcomed Mbete’s apology.
“The EFF welcomes this apology as a step forward and hopes indeed that the unfortunate events of the 12 February 2015 will be reviewed with the same sincerity expressed in the Speaker’s apology,” the organisation said in a statement.
The SA Human Rights Commission had earlier confirmed that it received a complaint about Mbete’s comments, alleging hate speech and incitement to violence.
The ANC yesterday welcomed its chairperson Mbete’s apology.
“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.”
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. — Sapa.