EMOTIONAL scenes played out as MPs paid tribute to the DA's deputy chief whip in Parliament, Mike Ellis, during his last session in the National Assembly yesterday.
Ellis, 64, who is hanging up his gloves after nearly a quarter of a century on the opposition's benches, was visibly moved when the first Speaker - his ruling party counterpart, Bulelani Magwanishe - said his "24 years of patriotism" qualified him "to be called a son of the soil". "We have seen love for your country and its people," Magwanishe said of the former headmaster, who came to Parliament in 1987 to represent his Durban North constituency as a member of what was then the Progressive Federal Party.
"You were able in times of difficulty to see the whole forest and not only the trees. You have been a leader of great vision and wisdom."
When ANC MPs entered Parliament in 1994, "there were high levels of mistrust among us", Magwanishe said. Ellis - among others - had provided the leadership that allowed friendships to be forged across political lines. "You taught us that being in opposition is not equal to one being disloyal to his country. You have been a member of the opposition all your political life, but you have been a patriot to the core."
Ellis was permitted by Speaker Max Sisulu to "cross the floor" to thank Magwanishe with an embrace and a robust handshake for "a truly wonderful speech".
DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said Ellis - a "proud parliamentarian" and "loyal party servant" - was also "a …