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DA to go ahead with Zuma censure bid

The party says Zuma should be censured for failing to answer MPs questions as the rules require him to.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) will go ahead with its bid to get the National Assembly to adopt a motion of censure against President Jacob Zuma this evening.

The party says Zuma should be censured for failing to come and answer Members of Parliament (MPs) questions four times a year as the rules require him to.

The move follows crisis talks between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and opposition parties at Tuynhuys earlier today, aimed at putting Parliament back on track.

Leaders from 11 opposition parties met with Ramaphosa this morning.

He announced he will chair a multi-party committee comprising National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and all parties to find solutions to tensions that have brought Parliament to near breaking point.

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.

Parties agreed to abide by the rules and Ramaphosa agreed that the same should apply to presiding officers, Zuma and his Cabinet ministers.

"They too must not be seen to be doing things that are going to disturb that decorum that we want to create."

But DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane says they are pushing ahead with their motion of censure against Zuma.

"The motion must proceed. Tthis is not an exercise in silencing the lamb. It's an exercise in saying 'have the robust discussions but let us apply the rules fairly and equitably'."

Maimane said they welcome the truce brokered by Ramaphosa but is only the start of a process.

Mutual respect for the rules of Parliament, the Constitution and holding off disciplinary action against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) are the key elements of the deal brokered by Ramaphosa.

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

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

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

The deputy president said the agreements bind opposition parties to play by the rules but he also says that presiding officers should apply them fairly.

"Similarly, members of the executive must also be respectful toward MPs."

EFF DISCIPLINARY ACTION SHELVED TEMPORARILY

Part of the deal will see disciplinary action, currently looming over 20 EFF MPs found guilty of misconduct, shelved until the multi-party committee completes its work.

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.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani told Eyewitness News he's relieved.

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

Opposition parties have welcomed the truce but only time will tell whether it holds.

'UNPARLIAMENTARY' LANGUAGE

It was a marathon plenary session for MPs in the National Assembly today marked by tetchiness, following last week's chaos.

Relations between ANC and opposition MPs reached an all-time low on Thursday evening when public order police entered the chamber during a heated session.

At one point, EFF members complained Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu had told one of their members to 'suka'.

That led to the debate that the word 'suka' had previously been deemed unparliamentary.

Zulu admitted to using the word but said she didn't know it was considered unparliamentary.