PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has extended an olive branch to opposition parties in Parliament by suggesting that their speaking time in the National Assembly should be extended.
The parties were incensed by Zuma's decision to move his State of the Nation Address from 11am to 7pm, breaking a tradition that is as old as Parliament.
They complained the change meant the opposition would not be afforded an opportunity to critique the all-important address, sabotaging the media.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa accused Zuma of being obsessed with people listening to him. This week, the office of ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga announced it would propose to Parliament that the speaking time for opposition parties be extended.
Political parties are allocated speaking time proportionate to the number of representatives they have, resulting in the ANC, which has 264 members in the 400-member Parliament, getting the lion's share.
"The speaking time allocated to opposition parties during debates is a matter President Jacob Zuma expressed concern about in one of the ANC Caucus meetings and had urged caucus to consider it seriously," the party said in a statement.
"Though not compelled by the Rules of Parliament, the ANC has a long-standing practice of sharing some of its allocated time with smaller opposition parties."
It said the amendment should be done in time for the parliamentary debate of Zuma's address. DA chairperson Joe Seremane said there was a need to review most parliamentary processes.
"The whole thing is scandalous. How can you expect people to debate matters of national importance when they are allocated half a minute to a minute," he said.