DA wants human rights commission to probe EFF MP's use of k-word in Parliament

The Parliament Buildings in Cape Town. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Parliament Buildings in Cape Town. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday said it would refer the use of the word “kaffir” by an Economic Freedom Fighters MP against one of its members to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

The word has a long history of use as a racist slur against black South Africans in particular, and this meaning was cemented during Apartheid. Originally, it was an Arabic term used to refer to ‘non-believers’ or infidels.

The altercation between EFF MP Nazier Paulsen and DA MP Yusuf Cassim happened while National Freedom Party MP Shaik Emam was speaking during the budget vote debate of the International Relations Department.

Emam accused the DA of oppressing the people of Palestine by supporting Israel.

Both the EFF and DA MPs became involved in a heated exchange while Emam was speaking, resulting in Paulsen calling Cassim a “Zionist sell-out kaffir”. This prompted Cassim to jump up and complain to House chairperson Mmatlala Boroto that Paulsen had “used the worst profanity”.

“It’s very clear that honourable Paulsen just used an unacceptable word in the House.
It’s utterly unacceptable. I ask you to take action,” said DA MP James Lorimer.

Emam defended Paulsen’s rant, saying: “The interpretation of the word is a non-believer and surely you can’t be a believer if you are oppressing your own people.”

Boroto said she did not hear the exchange, but asked that the whips of both the DA and EFF investigate and “do something about this and bring it to the correct forum”.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said his party would report the matter to both the SAHRC and the Ethics Committee of Parliament, and requested that the EFF act against Paulsen.

“This disgusting racist behaviour has no place in our constitutional democracy or in our democratic parliament, and I therefore demand that EFF leader, Julius Malema, initiate disciplinary action and, pending the outcome, suspend Paulsen immediately.”

“I will, in line with our complete commitment to defeating racism, refer Mr Paulsen to the SAHRC and to Parliament’s Ethics Committee for investigation.”– African News Agency (ANA)

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