News24

ANC: More talk time for parties

2010-01-21 17:01

Cape Town - ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga has proposed that the opposition's speaking time be increased during the upcoming debate on President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address next month.

This was part of the ANC's "efforts to deepen our country's participatory democracy", Motshekga's office said in a statement on Thursday.

The speaking time allocated to opposition parties during debates was a matter Zuma expressed concern about in one of the ANC caucus meetings and had urged the caucus to consider it seriously.

The time allocated to parties during debates is proportional to the number of representatives they have in Parliament.

"Although not compelled by the Rules of Parliament, the ANC has a longstanding practice of sharing some of its allocated time with the smaller opposition parties.

"The office of the Chief Whip will move swiftly to ensure that the proposal is tabled at the next meeting of the National Assembly rules committee with the hope that Parliament will urgently adopt it ahead of the debate on the state of the nation address in February," it said.

The rules committee has the power to develop, formulate and adopt policy concerning the business of the Assembly.

"We agree with the President that an increase in opposition MPs' speaking time will afford all parties an opportunity to make meaningful contributions on issues raised by the President's speech, thereby strengthening our country's participatory democracy.

"We believe that the majority party in Parliament can benefit from an effective and responsible opposition, which is essential to the success of parliamentary democracy and the health of our country's democratic system."