Several opposition party MPs with religious leaders on Wednesday (January 28,2015) in pursuit of restoring the dignity of Parliament, says the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) in a media release.
ACDP Chief Whip who attended the meeting, together with party leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe, says that the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (NICSA) had held previous meetings with the African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fightere (EFF), and this particular meeting was to bring on board and hear the views of other parties.
Other MPs at the meeting were: Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MPs Sibongile Nkomo and Mkhuleko Hlengwa and the AIC’s Lulama Ntshayisa. Only four of 12 parties in Parliament were represented.
Co-chairperson of the NICSA, Pastor Ray McCauley, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and Pundit Ashwin Trikamjee of the Hindu faith represented the religious leaders.
Dudley confirmed that, “The ACDP wants to see next month’s State of the Nation Address go ahead uninterrupted. This does not detract from the need to prioritise holding President Jacob Zuma and his Executive accountable – in fact it is essential to the process”, she said. “Issues between parties and individuals must be resolved between them and should not involve all of Parliament”, Dudley added.
McCauley is reported to have said that, “The discussions were ‘very sensitive’, hence the reluctance to discuss the details in the media.
He said, “As religious leaders we have a responsibility to the country to help where we can, because the integrity of Parliament and our constitutional institutions are crucial for the future”.
Goldstein said the talks were an ongoing process, and that the parties who attended on Wednesday were committed to it.
Two weeks ago, McCauley, in his role as the co-chairperson of the council, wrote to political party leaders whose parties are represented in Parliament to discuss the state of the institution and seek to bring about reconciliation between the warring parties.
He said the religious leaders had been watching the developments in Parliament and noted with concern that Parliament has deteriorated to a state of almost nonfunctioning.
“This is the institution that holds our country’s democracy together and we are very concerned that this institution will be rendered paralysed sooner or later”, said McCauley.