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'Let's put South Africa first' - Modise's appeal to political parties

Speaker Thandi Modise made the call as Parliament prepares for its first plenary sitting since the national state of disaster was declared and its business was suspended.

FILE: The Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise on 11 June 2019. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has appealed to political parties to pull together in efforts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Modise made the call as Parliament prepares for its first plenary sitting since the national state of disaster was declared and its business was suspended.

Most of the questions that ministers will face on Wednesday afternoon are focused on the COVID-19 crisis, its impact, and steps to deal with it.

The EFF proposal to reconvene Parliament in Pretoria has been batted down, with Modise saying this power would only be exercised if, and when, necessary.

One reason advanced by the red berets was Cape Town’s high incidence of COVID-9, but Modise took issue with this.

“So let us consider this virus as a problem of South Africa, not a provincial problem, not a racial problem. Let us own up and say we’re in it together, and we must work together.”

Modise said no MP would be forced to attend Wednesday’s sitting, where some Cape Town-based members would be social distancing in the chamber, and the rest would be online.

But she warned MPs against breaking the rules of the lockdown.

“Don’t ask me to write a permit to give you permission to travel across the provinces. If you take that risk and they arrest you, that is your business.”

Modise appealed to parties to put the country first.

“I would really be comfortable with leaders of parties who begin to think and work together in this difficult period to put South Africa first.”

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