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Mbete: Parliamentary chaos not something to be proud of

The speaker has been under fire from opposition parties for losing control and not being fair in her rulings.

FILE: Speaker Baleka Mbete addresses the media during a briefing held at Parliament on Friday 14 November 2014 following disruptions the previous day. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has addressed Members of Parliament (MPs) in the house, just five days after a chaotic sitting in which riot police were called in, saying Thursday night's events are nothing to be proud of.

Mbete chaired this afternoon's plenary session where opposition parties are tabling motions for debate.

She's been under fire from opposition parties for losing control and not being fair in her rulings, with many calling for her to be replaced.

"What transpired in the house on Thursday is not something we are proud of and we should do our utmost to prevent any possibility of this recurring."

Mbete confirmed an agreement was reached by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with opposition parties at a crisis meeting this morning and that disciplinary action against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and other MPs will be held over until a special committee completes its work.

Ramaphosa met with leaders from 11 opposition parties at Tuynhuys this morning.

The EFF MPs are accused of heckling President Jacob Zuma during his question and answer session in the National Assembly in August.

Mbete had to adjourn the sitting of the house.

The chanting was a reference to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on the R246 million spent on upgrades to Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramaphosa said an agreement has been reached with opposition leaders on a number of points that will allow for Parliament's dignity and its standing in the eyes of the public to be restored.

One of the agreements reached is a fresh look at the eligibility of presiding officers.

Opposition parties want Mbete replaced, arguing she can't be impartial while also being the African National Congress (ANC) chairperson.

Another is that disciplinary action against any MP will be held over while the multi-party forum gets down to thrashing out the issues.

"We have agreed that we are going to work together to ensure that the rules and the procedures of Parliament are applied consistently without any favour, without any prejudice and that they are applied fairly."

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani and Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane are the deputy co-chairs of the multi-party forum.

Ramaphosa said the forum is set to meet for the first time next week.

"This committee will start working next week and I must say that all of us gathered here were really encouraged by the spirit that prevailed."

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