Parliament: MPs sing ‘Jan Pierewiet' & 'Jingle Bells' during lengthy wait

MPs took to singing golden oldies in the chamber during a 6 hour suspension of proceedings last night.

DA MP David Maynier gestures at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during a question and answer session in Parliament on 19 November 2014. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A stalemate, over whether a report recommending the suspension of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) should be included on the National Assembly's agenda, resulted in an astounding six hour suspension of proceedings on Thursday.

Opposition MPs objected when the African National Congress (ANC) tried to push ahead with the adoption of the powers and privileges committee report into the EFF's conduct in the house during President Jacob Zuma's question and answer session in August.

In a deal forged by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week, political parties agreed disciplinary action against the EFF would be held in abeyance, but that accord unravelled 24 hours later.

A political tug of war behind closed doors saw proceedings suspended for six hours.

MPs cheering from the sidelines broke into song to pass the time in the half-deserted National Assembly chamber.

Jingle bells and the Afrikaans classic 'Jan Pierewiet' were belted out by some MPs seated in the opposition benches.

After a few hours, the National Assembly mace was carried back into the chamber, igniting hope that proceedings would resume.

But it was later removed from the chamber, a proverbial false alarm.

Eventually a deal was brokered and proceedings resumed shortly before 9pm on Thursday night.

During intense negotiations, political party whips then agreed the matter would stand over.

ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani made the announcement.

"I move that order number eight on the order paper stand over to be dealt with on a date to be determined following the planned engagements between the leaders of government business and leaders of political parties represented in Parliament."

The ANC in Parliament says the National Assembly programme will be extended to next week, so that outstanding matters can be dealt with.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the governing party to be specific in giving an exact date as to when the president will answer questions in Parliament.

DA MPs protested outside the National Assembly on Thursday, complaining about Zuma's apparent reluctance to face the opposition benches.

The party says it's unacceptable that the president has not appeared in the chamber since August.

DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane says, "At Luthuli House they send instructions to say don't even ask where the president is, just vote to exonerate him from Nkandla and so everybody does. We will not be co-opted into that system."