Ramaphosa averts Parliamentary crisis

A consensus with opposition parties has been reached, but it remains to be seen how long this will last.

FILE: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the media after the meeting with opposition parties' representative in Tynhuys, Parliament in Cape Town on 18 November 2014. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to have steered Parliament from the brink of a crisis, brokering a deal aimed at defusing tensions.

Opposition parties went into crisis talks with Ramaphosa yesterday, seeking assurances that President Jacob Zuma would come and answer Members of Parliament (MPs questions before year-end.

Opposition leaders also requested a promise that there would be no more police action in the National Assembly and speaker Baleka Mbete be replaced.

What they got was a deal under which disciplinary processes against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and 19 EFF MPs will now be held in abeyance until a new political committee to be chaired by Ramaphosa completes its work.

The EFF's Khanyi Litchfield-Tshabalala has claimed this decision as a victory for the party.

"I think there is sincerity from everybody and I think its sincerity that should be there because I don't think any of us want a Parliament that's degenerating."

Ramaphosa says until the political committee completes its work, Malema and fellow MPs will escape the punishment they faced.

"Are we going to put all these things that happened the other day in abeyance? Yes, because we are going to find political solutions."

But the EFF insists Ramaphosa is no hero and the political committee, which starts work next week, has its work cut out for it.

Ramaphosa says everyone, from the President down, must obey the rules.

Putting that into action will now be the test.

The deputy president says if this is carried out, the climate will be right for President Zuma and his minister to come and account, with none of the insults that have been traded across the board.

"We should deal with each other with a great dose of respect."

Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane says it's the start of a long process.

"All problems cannot be resolved by having one meeting with the deputy president."

Mbete has endorsed the plan.

"I wish to express my appreciation for the steps that are being taken."