Soccer fever grips Parliament
Cape Town – Football fever seized MPs on Thursday at a joint sitting of Parliament's two houses to debate the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
"Honourable members, please, there should be no vuvuzelas in the House!" Speaker Max Sisulu admonished members in the National Assembly, after his call for them to come to order was greeted with a horn blast.
This provoked much laughter among MPs, all of whom were in a festive mood, wearing Bafana shirts under their jackets. Many had donned football hats and scarves, while one NCOP member sported an Afro-style brightly-coloured wig.
DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip had mounted a small Zakumi mascot doll on his bench alongside a miniature soccer ball.
Across the floor, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe sat with a scarf in the colours of the South African flag around his neck.
Earlier, members sang a song urging Bafana to win and emerge victorious from the 19th FIFA World Cup, being held for the first time on African soil. The event kicks off in a week's time.
A dream come true
Opening the debate, ANC MP and chairperson of the sports portfolio committee, Butana Komphela, said the event was "a dream of the nation come true".
The country's stadiums, airports, roads and accommodation facilities were all ready, he told MPs.
"It is so wonderful today to be an African...," he said.
He paid tribute to several opposition party members, whom, he said, had put aside political differences and united around the drive to prepare for the cup.
Ten minutes into the debate, the Zakumi mascot made an appearance in the public gallery, and was recognised by Sisulu.
"A warm welcome to you," he told Zakumi, who waved from high up in the back of the House as MPs applauded and cheered.
Earlier, some MPs practised diski dance moves in front of the National Assembly building, and signed a giant Bafana football jersey.