The Democratic Alliance (DA) has come to the defence of one of its MPs Tsepo Mhlongo after he was accused of shopping for booze in a liquor store during a parliamentary session on Zoom.
Chief Whip of the Official Opposition Natasha Mazzone released a statement to set the record straight.
MAZZONE JUMPS TO MHLONGO’S DEFENCE
Mazzone, who expressed her outrage over “sensationalised” media reports, said Mhlongo was at a Pick n Pay grocery store and not at a TOPS liquor store, as was assumed by an EFF MP.
“Due to the unprecedented outrage directed towards Mr Mhlongo, he has now been forced to go as far as to compile an affidavit to prove that he was not in a liquor store,” she said.
“The DA in no way justifies Mr Mhlongo not being fully attentive while being on the virtual sitting. It is for this reason that Mr Mhlongo was duly reprimanded before the Party’s parliamentary caucus, where he apologized for the offence that he has caused to the public,” she added.
Mazzone said that while the DA respects the media’s responsibility to hold MPs to account, the level of interest shown in Mhlongo’s mishap was unfortunate.
“A male ANC MP hurled abuse at a DA MP when she shared her personal account of the sexual assault she suffered as a child. The MP also proceeded with threats of violence towards myself and my colleague Phumzile Van Damme, all during a Women’s Day debate. The press has remained mostly silent on the despicable and sexist behaviour by this male MP and has instead chosen to sensationalise a factually incorrect incident,” she said.
Apart from Mazzone, Mhlongo himself took to Twitter on Friday to dispel the rumours.
“I would like to clarify the unfortunate incident of my video turning on by mistake on Wednesday during a Parliament seating, for which I unreservedly apologise as it was not intended. I want to put it [on] record that I was not at Tops as alleged, I was however in a store.”
WATCH: DA MP CAUGHT IN A STORE DURING PARLIAMENTARY SESSION
Well, how did this all come about then? Mhlongo’s camera accidentally switched on during a parliament session zoom call. The camera showed a brief few seconds of his shoes and crates of alcohol which led to the suspicion that he was in a liquor store.
The slip of Mhlongo’s camera also came while ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe was addressing the National Assembly.
EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini immediately raised the issue saying:
“Tsepo Mhlongo was busy within Tops. Can we please ensure that this comrade gets out of the liquor [store] and comes to the work of Parliament because the guy’s in Tops as we speak. It is ridiculous that some of us make time and others are just in Tops and drinking wines. It’s improper. We can’t be reduced like this.”
Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu also raised concerns saying that everyone in the sitting saw the video.
“The honourable member of the IFP is correct in raising concern about somebody who’s walking in Tops while the person is connected to Parliament. We all saw it”