Video: Fight Erupts in South African Parliament After Black Lawmaker Calls White Colleague Racist

An investigation has been launched into a fierce row between opposition parties that descended into violence in South Africa’s parliament. The fight erupted during a question-and-answer session with the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa at a meeting of the National Assembly in Cape Town on Tuesday.

In the buildup to the brawl, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) traded insults. DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen remarked that the "VBS looters" should allow him to speak—a reference to the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank in which the brother of EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu is implicated.

EFF leader Julias Malema responded by calling Steenhuisen a "racist young white man who was accused of rape," before his microphone was cut. The EFF caucus then began a chant of "racist."

As the fracas died down, Andries Tlouamma of the Agang party rose to say that it should not be allowed that white members of parliament are not allowed to speak. A quarrel broke out with the EFF caucus. Tlouamma then shouts "fuck off," prompting EFF's Nazier Paulsen to jump over benches in the chamber to attack Tlouamma.

As the argument escalated into a brawl, a bottle was thrown at Tlouamma by EFF MP Makoti Khawula. The ruling ANC party and Ramaphosa looked on bemused.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving although no real punches were thrown as other lawmakers and parliament security intervened to try to break it up. Both Tlouamma and Paulsen were ejected from the house.

House chair Thoko Didiza said the parliament’s disciplinary committee should decide who breached the rules of the House and what the punishment should be.

She said that it looked like an object was thrown from the EFF benches at Tlouamma when he told the House that white MPs should not be stopped from voicing their opinion, Eye Witness News reported. “None of us can be proud about what happened in the house today,” she said.

Fighting in South Africa’s parliament was common when Jacob Zuma was president, because the EFF would refuse to let him speak, accusing him of corruption. Since Zuma was replaced by Ramaphosa in February, parliamentary proceedings have been relatively peaceful.

After the fight, Ramaphosa said the country can not afford to return to the raw racism of its apartheid past.

“There should never be a time or an opportunity where we see each other as black, white and so forth and insult one another. ‘We are South Africans, and this is what defines us,” he said, according to Africa News.

Racial tensions have been heightened by the EFF and ruling ANC party’s backing of the policy of redistributing land without compensation.

The bickering among the opposition could play into the hands of Ramaphosa, who is seeking re-election next year and is enjoying a favorable rating of 70 percent, according to Bloomberg.

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