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Allow space to answer questions: Mantashe

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Parliament should allow leaders to answer questions without shouting, and insults being hurled, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

“Parliament must do its work and not allow deviant behaviour,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.

“How can they [questions] be answered when we are all singing and shouting? Space must be given for questions to be answered.”

Mantashe was briefing media following the African National Congress’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend.

He said the ANC was not shielding President Jacob Zuma, or preventing him from answering questions in Parliament, but calling for proceedings to be dignified.

“As far as we are concerned, the president must go to Parliament and be given the space to answer questions. You don’t disrupt a process of answering questions, and then cry foul that questions are not being answered,” he said.

Mantashe said the party was looking for alternative ways of giving feedback to people about Parliament’s work.

He said the more Parliament was interrupted and the space for answering questions was closed, the less relevant it was to people.

“It is this reality that informed the decision that in order to account to our people, the ANC should continue to rely more on direct contact with them in izimbizos,” he said.

“That is why we say, let us have more izimbizos to explain to our people the work being done by our president and ministers,” he added.

Mantashe said the NEC had noted how Parliament had descended into chaos, with parties launching an unruly offensive against the ANC. He said opposition parties were hiding hooliganism behind robust engagement.

He gave an example of Economic Freedom Fighters’ Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu showing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa the middle finger last week.

“What is robust and accountable when you show the deputy president the middle finger in Parliament? Is it acceptable that parliamentarians must go there to be insulted and shown the middle finger? That is not acceptable,” he said. SAPA

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