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Ramaphosa announces plan to restore Parliament's dignity

Ramaphosa said in the meantime, disciplinary action against any MP will be held over.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa meeting with opposition parties at Tuynhuys, Parliament in Cape Town on 18 November 2014. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says he's convening a special forum with opposition parties that will thrash out the issues that have threatened to bring Parliament to its knees.

Ramaphosa said in the meantime, disciplinary action against any Member of Parliament (MP) will be held over.

The National Assembly was due to endorse a report on 20 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs found guilty of misconduct with some of them facing up to 20 days suspension without pay.

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

National Assembly Speaker Baleka 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 met with leaders from 11 opposition parties at Tuynhuys this morning where he told reporters that 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.

OPPOSITION PARTIES CALL FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

Opposition parties want a judicial review of Parliament's disciplinary processes.

This after claiming Parliament's Powers and Privileges Committee's disciplinary action against EFF MPs was completely flawed.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), United Democratic Movement and Inkatha Freedom Party have produced a report detailing why the disciplinary process of the committee was flawed.

"This process was yet another indication that the ANC is prepared to bend the rules any which way."

In addition, DA MP Annelie Lotriet said a change in legislation is needed to ensure impartial hearings in future.

"The act needs to allow for an appeals process which it doesn't have at the moment."

Opposition parties have also come out in support of a court review of the majority-ANC committee's findings.