Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the parliamentary Press Gallery Association. Picture: Chantall Presence/ANA

Parliament - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described the conduct of a group of ruling African National Congress MPs who laid into their chief whip prior to a debate on state capture taking place in the National Assembly as the actions of ill-disciplined people.

Speaking to the Press Gallery Association in Parliament, Ramaphosa said he took a dim view of the way the MPs raised their concerns in public, instead of raising it within party structures. 

"That is serious matter of concern and in my view, for members of Parliament like that to attack their own chief whip in the most public way in which they did, shows great ill-discipline," said the deputy president.

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"The other problem is that they came across as being people who are in favour of state capture and I don't believe that this is how they would like to be depicted..."

The MPs, which included Sibusiso Radebe, Loyiso Mpumlwana, Mervyn Dirks, Freddie Adams and Stan Maila, had a go at Mthembu on a television station linked to the controversial Gupta family, close friends of President Jacob Zuma and at the centre of state capture allegations. The MPs said the fact that Mthembu agreed to the debate showed he sided with the "racist Democratic Alliance, the DA on a biased parliamentary debate on state capture".

"It would seem ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu is deliberately defying the President and his own colleagues in the ANC caucus who have called for a more inclusive process to investigate state capture...this concession to DA is unprecedented and shows that a pro-white monopoly capital faction has emerged inside the ANC parliamentary caucus," Mpumlwana told ANN7. 

This prompted Mthembu to release a statement shortly before the debate started, decrying the "unfortunate public utterances by five ANC MPs".

"The insinuation that the majority party in parliament can direct the opposition what their motions for debate ought to be, and vice versa, is not only malicious, but also very dangerous to the functioning of a healthy multi-party democratic parliament."

Mthembu said he had "escalated" the utterances to ANC headquarters, Luthuli House.