Speaker Mbete to stay put

2014-11-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Opposition parties can forget about getting rid of Baleka Mbete as parliamentary speaker — it’s not going to happen.

This is what Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told leaders of the opposition during a closed-door breakfast meeting yesterday.

Afterwards, Ramaphosa presented his action plan to put Parliament back on course after the recent ructions.

This includes the formation of a committee, chaired by Ramaphosa, with ANC chief whip Stone Sizani and DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane as his deputies, and three other opposition leaders also present.

This group will discuss the issues crippling Parliament over the last five months, attempt to reach solutions and brief party leaders.

Ramaphosa said the aim is to restore the integrity of Parliament.

“We want a Parliament where we can … attempt to persuade each other through debate rather than focusing on disruption,” he said.

It was also decided that the disciplinary report against 20 EFF MPs who were found guilty of misconduct would be held in abeyance so it can be dealt with by the new committee.

While insisting that Mbete would remain in her position, Ramaphosa said she and other officials must preside impartially.

He agreed the president and ministers must be held accountable by Parliament and answer questions as set out in the rules, although he gave no undertaking that President Jacob Zuma would appear before the end of the year.

There was apparently consensus that the riot police, who removed MPs forcefully last Thursday, do not belong in Parliament, but Ramaphosa did not undertake that police would be barred.

“If there is once again respect and decorum in Parliament, it will not be necessary for any outside force to intervene,” he said.

EFF leader Julius Malema and chief whip Floyd Shivambu were not present at the meeting.

The party said it took notice of Ramaphosa’s political intervention, but gave no undertaking that its MPs would adhere to the rules in future.

Opposition parties made three demands to Cyril Ramaphosa:

• Baleka Mbete must be replaced as speaker because she is protecting Zuma and the ANC in Parliament;

• President Jacob Zuma must return to the National Assembly before the end of the year to answer questions; and

• The riot police must not set foot in Parliament.

Ramaphosa demanded:

• The president and ministers should be respected when they appear in the House; and

• MPs must behave and follow the rules of Parliament.

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