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Ramaphosa talks social cohesion, unemployment in Parly

The deputy president said one of the best ways to improve social cohesion is to accelerate economic growth.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa met with leaders from 11 opposition parties at Tuynhuys on 18 November 2014. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says one of the best ways to improve social cohesion is to accelerate economic growth.

This amid speculation the Democratic Alliance (DA) will bring a motion later, asking the house to censure President Jacob Zuma for refusing to return to the house to answer questions from Members of Parliament (MPs).

Ramaphosa told MPs that South Africa must address poverty and unemployment, reduce inequality and tackle race-based exclusion if it wants to improve social cohesion.

Meanwhile, the DA has withdrawn a question related to Zuma, because it is the subject of a debate later today.

The official opposition intended asking Ramaphosa whether Zuma had communicated he would not be answering questions in the National Assembly.

PARLIAMENT PEACE DEAL REACHED

Leaders from 11 opposition parties met with Ramaphosa to initiate crisis talks at Tuynhuys on Tuesday.

The talks were aimed at putting Parliament back on track.

Ramaphosa 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."

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.

This meant that the disciplinary action, currently looming over 20 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs found guilty of misconduct, would be shelved until the multi-party committee completes its work.

The EFF MPs are accused of heckling 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.

African National Congress chief whip Stone Sizani and DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane are the deputy co-chairs of the multi-party forum.