Members of Parliament have been freed up from commitments next week to focus on working in their communities following the recent spate of xenophobic violence in the country.

“We can’t carry on at Parliament like it is business as usual after the deaths of so many people. There have been discussions about next week’s programme in light of this,” National Speaker Baleka Mbete said as she opened the Programming Committee meeting on Thursday.

MPs were being released to take part in “whatever activities are appropriate”, she said.

The debate scheduled for Freedom Day on Tuesday April 28 is being moved to next month.

Committees would be rescheduled too unless there was important work that could not be delayed, said Mbete.

Parliament needed to show leadership at this time, she said.

“Parliament must be visibly involved… The question is whether it would not be appropriate to have some form of structure that can go out to follow the issues and look at the deeper question – what is the cause of the violence, and how can we avoid a repeat of this kind of thing?”

Mbete proposed that an upcoming debate on Africa Day could be included as part of the plan of action. Proposals would be considered and a programme finalised after the Workers’ Day weekend.

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