Zuma: We must lead by example

The president told MPs to lead by example and show respect to the house.

FILE:President Jacob Zuma told Members of Parliament to lead by example and show respect to the house. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says proceedings in Parliament should be characterised by respect and tolerance.

He has chided Members of Parliament (MP) for their rowdy conduct.

Tempers flared during debate on the presidency budget vote on Wednesday, when ANC MP Buti Manamela likened Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema to Adolf Hitler.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli battled to keep the house under control as EFF MPs launched a barrage of objections.

Replying to the debate yesterday Zuma took MPs to task over their behaviour.

Zuma mentioned no names, saying he was not pointing fingers at individuals, but he said South Africans in general needed to show each other more respect and tolerance. He told all MPs they must set an example.

"People look at us, they are expecting from us a lot and all I'm saying, it's important, honourable deputy speaker, to ensure that this house has a kind of decorum that's expected of it."

He appealed to them to show respect for one another, even when they disagreed.

Zuma also had words for the DA's Mmusi Maimane, telling him he was where he was because of the struggle ANC fought for this country and its people.

Maimane has lashed Zuma for failing to provide strong leadership at a time when the country faces enormous challenges.

He said if MPs don't show respect for the rules of the house, they can't expect citizens to respect the laws made in Parliament.

Meanwhile, speaking in Cape Town earlier on Thursday, deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa held a different view, saying people should not fret too much about the seeming increase in tension between MPs during Parliamentary debates.

Ramaphosa said rowdy debates are part of Parliamentary discourse in parts of the world.

"Parliaments are often taken as type theaters where people enjoy debates. You should see other Parliaments in the world, such as the British Parliament where they go at each other."

Recent Parliamentary discussions have been characterised by name calling, with several MPs reprimanded and some ordered to leave.