National Assembly Speaker finally calls it a day

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. | Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. | Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 4, 2024


Less than three years after the National Assembly elected Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as Speaker in August 2021, she submitted her resignation letter to acting Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli under a cloud of controversy.

She resigned with immediate effect amid pressure from opposition parties to do so.

However, her resignation does not take her out of the woods yet as it still remains to be seen whether she will hand herself to the police for her arrest.

It was expected that the former speaker would hand herself over to the police to be processed before appearing in court on corruption and money laundering charges.

Mapisa-Nqakula is accused of receiving millions of rand in cash as bribes from a military contractor when she was defence minister between 2012 and 2021. She has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

She is accused of receiving 11 payments amounting to over R2 million.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who has been an ANC MP for 30 years, has denied the allegations and said that she would clear her name.

She was forced to resign a day after she lost a bid in the high court to obtain an interdict against her arrest over the allegations.

In a statement on her resignation yesterday, she said she had taken the decision to uphold the integrity and sanctity of Parliament.

She said that because of the gravity of the allegations she faced she could not continue in the role.

“I have made this conscious decision in order to dedicate my time and focus to deal with the recently announced investigation against me by our country’s law enforcement agencies,” the letter read.

Her party she had been representing for years, the ANC, confirmed that her letter had been received by the office of the secretary-general of the party, Fikile Mbalula.

In a statement the ANC said Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted her intention to protect the reputation of the organisation.

“We value her commitment to maintaining the image of our organisation, as it reflects our principles of organisational renewal that promote proactive responsibility-taking among members, rather than waiting for instructions to step aside,” the statement said.

The ANC statement also confirmed that Tsenoli would continue in his role as the acting Speaker.

Mapisa-Nqakula had been under pressure to resign from political parties represented in Parliament with a motion of no confidence being prepared..

Chief whip for the official opposition, the DA, Siviwe Gwarube said the party had called for the resignation when allegations of corruption and money laundering were levelled against her.

“We believe that anyone who holds this high office should be beyond reproach; and Ms Mapisa-Nqakula is not suited for it.

“While we are unable to move the motion of no confidence against her anymore or pursue the case against her in the Ethics Committee, we do believe that law enforcement agencies must now move with speed to conclude the matter,” she said.

ActionSA president Herman Mashaba while he welcomed the resignation, he raised concerns about the “delay tactics” to stall a possible arrest.

“We trust this is a positive step forward towards her speedy prosecution at a time when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has failed to achieve any high-profile corruption prosecution in recent years.

“It is, however, concerning that neither President Cyril Ramaphosa nor the ruling party has expressed concern over the National Assembly Speaker’s behaviour and was even willing to keep her in the Speaker position in the form of special leave,” Mashaba said.

Earlier yesterday, ActionSA unveiled its plan to speed up NPA prosecutions such as these.

The GOOD Party also released a statement saying removing Mapisa-Nqakula, with the ANC using its majority to protect her, would have been distasteful and deepened citizens’ cynicism about politics and voting on the eve of a critical election.

“Since news of her imminent arrest emerged, GOOD has called on the ANC to do the right thing, cut the Speaker loose, and spare the country further hand-wringing and humiliation,” said the statement.

The IFP said it was a responsible decision by Mapisa-Nqakula as the move allowed her to focus on her legal matters without dragging Parliament along any further.

“In the remaining weeks of its term of office the National Assembly still has work and business which must continue without compromise or interruption,” it said.

The Star

[email protected]