INKATHA Freedom Party MP Koos van der Merwe and Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin (African National Congress) made such blatantly sexist remarks that treaded the line of racial insult so closely that both should have been removed from the house.
Both also ruined what was turning out to be probably the best budget vote debate in a season that had been largely underpinned by its mediocrity and lack of informed discussion.
As we all know our politicians are not generally known for their oratory skills or their ability to debate intelligently, understandably and without malice.
However, there are exceptions.
While President Jacob Zuma’s speech was not exactly inspiring it had some useful information and was one of his better ones.
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko then began to deliver a cracker of a speech, the main theme of which was the lack of leadership in the country.
She pointed out some of the known issues and outlined her party’s stand on them.
Just as Mazibuko was in her stride, Van der Merwe called for a point of order - this is a tactic deliberately used and abused by MPs to disrupt a speaker.
“Madam deputy speaker, could the honourable member please say what she has done with her hair?” he said.
Van der Merwe then looked up to where the speaker was sitting with a smug expression indicating he was obviously very pleased with his question.
Mazibuko brushed him off by offering to share her hair secrets with the bald-headed politician sometime after the sitting.
Van der Merwe has been in Parliament for 35 years, yet his action of disrupting another MP from his side of the floor proved that he doesn’t have 35 years of experience, but only one year’s experience repeated 35 times.
His beliefs and actions are still rooted in the 1970s if not the Stone Age.
Later in the debate Cronin was criticising Mazibuko’s economic beliefs and where she was getting them from.
Cronin said: “I think that Koos van der Merwe’s actions were deplorable and sexist, but I can say this for him, at least his hair and his thoughts are his own.”
Although Cronin’s words may not be interpreted as directly insulting and may have given him some wiggle room to get out of such an accusation, his body language betrayed his real meaning and his own beliefs as he turned to his side of the floor with a grin like a smartass school boy who thinks he has just pulled a clever one over the teacher.
Cronin is notorious for lecturing the National Assembly on the class war and his comment and actions show that he ultimately has very little real class and the only war going on is the wrestling with his own demons.
Why Mazibuko or any other person decides to wear a wig or not is no one’s business as we don’t know the real reason.
But what was really insulting from both Van der Merwe and Cronin was that they were reinforcing a stereotype that young black women cannot make up their own minds about anything and have to be led or influenced in their decisions.
Furthermore, both are pouring fuel on the fire raging over the recent controversies concerning cultural differences and insensitivities.
Both, despite being members of bitterly opposing parties, are part of the overall problem faced by this country in obtaining racial understanding and reconciliation.
It is time that these two were put out to pasture.