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Is there a better script for Parliament?

How do you hold the executive to account for Nkandla without letting Parliament become a soapie?

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the media after the meeting with opposition parties representatives in Tuynhuys in Cape Town on 18 November 2014. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Questions have been raised about where the line should be drawn between holding the executive to account and maintaining the dignity of Parliament since tensions erupted on live TV last week between opposition parties and the executive.

The parliamentary process has since been referred to as a "circus" and a "soap opera" and sparked questions about whether the rule of Parliament is valued by both sides.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's John Robbie on Wednesday morning, ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani explained that the setting up of a multi-party committee would ensure the proper functioning of Parliament.

He also answered questions about whether opposition parties and government would ever see eye to eye.

Asked if the brokered peace was an admission that Speaker Baleka Mbete had lost control of the house, he said, "No this is not an admission. I think the problem is when Members of Parliament ignore the rules of Parliament, ignore any command, instruction or ruling of the Speaker, especially when members who do that have the intent of making Parliament ungovernable, then obviously the ruling of the Speaker would not mean anything."

He said the committee was set up because the leader of government business is frustrated that announcements by the opposition are not made efficiently.

"There's always a drama in the house which drowns out all the programmes in government. Political parties represented in Parliament need to discuss this matter and share what kind of Parliament they collectively want to see."

Sizani deftly put the onus on the parties for self-discipline.

"Of course everybody in Parliament is there by the ticket of their parties so must subject themselves to the authority of their own party. They have to do that otherwise the Speaker will not be able to govern them. In Parliament, you stick to the rules that govern everybody."

Asked how you draw the line between holding the President and the executive to account for things like Nkandla and maintaining the dignity of Parliament, he said, "Of course we have seen a tweet from Floyd Shivambu but he was not there, Litchfield Tshabalala was there. He said they will not retreat, nor surrender.

"Of course, the whip that represented them in that committee agreed the situation was untenable and that we should work together to make sure the circus in Parliament doesn't happen again."

He was then asked whether he was aware how angry people were about how the Nkandla issue was being handled.

"Well, it has been expressed to us a number of times not only by Members of Parliament but members of the public as well, but that does not warrant personal attacks on us, the Members of Parliament, simply by virtue of being members of the ANC. I don't believe that is their right."

Sizani said the committee would likely meet again next week.

"The leader of government business, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, will convene a meeting first thing next week."