Parliament sees lengthiest sitting since 1994

Proceedings in the National Assembly were suspended for 6 hours due to tense behind the scenes talks.

FILE: The National Assembly in Parliament. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The National Assembly was still sitting during the early hours of this morning, in one of the lengthiest sittings since 1994.

Proceedings were suspended for six hours on Thursday afternoon, for tense behind the scenes talks after opposition parties objected to the African National Congress (ANC) unilaterally changing the day's programme.

The sitting finally resumed at 9pm and bleary-eyed MPs were still in session in the National Assembly at 4am this morning.

Faced by a united opposition, the ANC backed down.

After the talks, ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani told the house the report on the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members if Parliament (MPs)' misconduct would not be debated as planned.

"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."

Opposition MPs cheered the revival of a deal that had unravelled 24 hours after being brokered by Ramaphosa.

But the ANC's Moloto Mothapo denied it.

"The deal is dead in the water, that was confirmed by the deputy president in his letter to the leaders of political parties, because of the conduct of the Democratic Alliance, it has rendered the whole deal meaningless."

This could lead to more tension and erode what little trust remains between the ANC and opposition parties.

While the ANC is insisting the deal is dead in the water and that it will mean starting afresh, opposition parties are likely to meet with the deputy president next week.

They emerged from the talks believing the deal with Ramaphosa was back on track.

The ANC also says it plans to bring the report on the EFF MPs' misconduct before the house next week.

But opposition parties say it was agreed this would depend on the talks with Ramaphosa, aimed at finding a political solution.