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Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation spares ANC embarrassment of having to publicly defend her

Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation spares ANC embarrassment of having to publicly defend her
Illustrative image: Former National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Money and handcuffs: Supplied)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, defence minister turned National Assembly Speaker, has done what few ANC public representatives ever do — resign when facing dodgy dealing claims. This should set an example, but the resignation happened after she lost the confidence and protection of the ANC.

By resigning, the now ex-National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has relieved her party, the ANC, of the potential pickle of defending her in the DA’s motion of no confidence debate. And as she no longer is an MP, the complaint to the parliamentary ethics committee in connection with the corruption saga has also fallen away.

In her two-page resignation statement under the Parliament letterhead, Mapisa-Nqakula said, “My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding the allegations being levelled against me…”

When the time was right, she said, she would address those allegations — 12 corruption counts involving R4.55-million in bribes allegedly solicited from a contractor between 2017 and 2019 while she was defence minister. That emerged in papers filed at the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria when Mapisa-Nqakula made an interdict and discovery application.

On Tuesday, the court struck the application off the urgent roll, effectively clearing the way for Mapisa-Nqakula to be arrested, or to hand herself over to the police to be brought to court for a bail application. While the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) maintains it does not discuss arrests in public ahead of time, it’s on public record that the Investigating Directorate (ID) would not oppose bail.

“Given the public trust entrusted in me as a Speaker of our National Assembly and the need for me to protect the image of our organisation, the ANC, I have an obligation, despite the principle that I should be deemed innocent, to step down from my office,” Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday afternoon.

She maintained her innocence, as she’s done since the 19 March ID raid at her Johannesburg home. Then the ANC in Parliament moved to shield her, arguing that no action was required as processes still needed to unfold.

Holding the line

That could have remained the line — it was held when it came to former president Jacob Zuma over the Nkandla saga. It is being held in connection with ANC legislator Mosebenzi Zwane, who’s on trial over the Free State Estina dairy corruption saga, and fellow ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who was charged over a corrupt Mpumalanga land deal. Their only acts of contrition were to step down as chairpersons of the transport and home affairs committees, respectively.

The line would have been held by the ANC had it come to a no-confidence motion; the governing party’s attitude is that it will not have others force its hand, regardless of right or wrong.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa promoted Mapisa-Nqakula to National Assembly Speaker in his August 2021 reshuffle, he would have been aware of the defence ministry corruption saga — it emerged in 2019 — and her questionable conduct in office when he fined her three months’ salary for giving ANC members a lift to Harare in an air force plane some 10 months earlier.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Speaker’s corruption saga another nail in coffin of public trust in government

By resigning as Speaker and MP, Mapisa-Nqakula has spared her party any possible embarrassment of having to publicly defend one of their own who privately had lost the confidence of the party.

On Wednesday, the ANC’s alliance partner Cosatu said it would have been untenable for her to remain in the post.

“We support this decision to spare Parliament, the ANC and the nation the spectacle currently unfolding with regards to the investigation of corruption allegations against her,” the labour federation said. “Her decision to step back and resign is a correct one for her, Parliament and the nation.”

On Human Rights Day, Mapisa-Nqakula took special leave as the furore over the corruption claims failed to go away. It wasn’t enough — despite the fact that on election day, 29 May, her public political life would have been over as she’s not on the ANC election candidates lists.

‘Not an admission of guilt’

On Wednesday, opposition parties welcomed her resignation, as did the ANC, which described her resignation as a commitment to “maintaining the image of our organisation” and “promote proactive responsibility-taking among members, rather than waiting for instructions to step aside”.

The ANC parliamentary caucus said it respected her decision to resign to protect Parliament’s integrity. “The ANC caucus also affirms Comrade Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s assertion that her resignation is not an admission of guilt of the allegations against her.”

Alliance partner the South African Communist Party (SACP) welcomed the resignation as “correctly sensitive to the comprehensive spirit, viewed purposively, of the ‘step aside’ resolutions adopted by the ANC with the support of the SACP and other ANC-led alliance partners, as well as most South Africans”.

In a 157-word statement, Parliament confirmed the Speaker’s resignation. “The acting Speaker [Lechesa Tsenoli] of the National Assembly extends gratitude to Ms Mapisa-Nqakula for her service to the nation over her 30-year tenure as a Member of Parliament and, most recently, in her role as Speaker of the National Assembly since 19 August 2021.”

DA Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube welcomed the resignation. “We believe that anyone who holds this high office should be beyond reproach, and Ms Mapisa-Nqakula is not suited for it,” Gwarube said.

“This resignation is a victory for accountability and Parliament. And by extension, the people of South Africa. Parliament cannot be a refuge for some of the worst among us. Those entrusted to lead and represent South Africa must be up to the task.”

The EFF, which called for her resignation earlier this week, also welcomed it.

The IFP said Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation was a “responsible” decision. “The IFP maintains that the law must apply without any fear or favour, and we implore the former Speaker to subject herself to the legal processes until their legal and logical conclusion,” it said.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald also welcomed the resignation. “She had no choice… She was supposed to be a symbol of respect, of integrity, of honesty. She violated all these principles…”

Parliament’s integrity

A focus on Parliament’s integrity emerged in Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation statement as it had in the statement about her going on special leave.

“Given the seriousness of the much-publicised allegations against me, I cannot continue in this role. As a country’s chief lawmaker, I hold a central responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of Parliament by ensuring that my actions ensure that its sacred work must continue without blemish,” she said.

Yet one of the matters that has not gone away is the DA complaint to the powers and privileges committee to probe Mapisa-Nqakula’s role alongside that of National Council of Provinces Chairperson Amos Masondo in almost doubling the secretary to Parliament’s R2.6-million salary within six months.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation as Speaker, effectively the head of the legislative sphere of state, is unprecedented.

It remains to be seen whether this is the accountability moment for Parliament as the institution constitutionally required to oversee the government and hold it to account. Next month’s elections will have a role in that.

Court appearance

Mapisa-Nqakula appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 4 April to face 12 charges of corruption and one charge of money laundering.

Her husband, Charles Ngakula, and former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete sat in the first row of courtroom 8 in a show of support.

Mbete, who is no stranger to controversy herself, has previously spoken out in defence of Mapisa-Nqakula, saying the corruption allegations were part of a vendetta to discredit her.

After entering the courtroom and taking a seat on the bench, Mapisa-Nqakula flashed an appreciative smile at her husband and Mbete. DM

This article was updated at 12pm on 4 April 2024 to include Mapisa-Nqakula’s court appearance.


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  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    “in no way an indication or admission of guilt”
    Unprecedented indeed.
    Let’s see where the rest of the cards fall.

    • Titus Khoza says:

      “in no way an indication or admission of guilt”
      What is wrong with that, or have you passed judgement already?
      Remember, it’s all about her, not you.

    • Titus Khoza says:

      “in no way an indication or admission of guilt”
      What is wrong with that, or have you passed judgement already?
      Remember, it’s all about her, not you.

      • Kevin Immelman says:

        Exactly! And if she fervently believed she was innocent, she would be saying so and acting so. Imagine if all ANC (and other) MP’s were as diligent in upholding the status of parliament – there would be nearly a hundred by-elections.

  • Flapster Karos says:

    She can now start a new political party

  • Corry Versluis says:

    If she were a man the anc would defend to the bitter end. zwane and bongo being cases in point.
    But she was cast asunder without a moments care.

    • T'Plana Hath says:

      It’s either ‘cast aside’ or ‘torn asunder’.
      You can’t do combos 😁 (well, you shouldn’t).
      ‘Cast asunder’ means someone has literally 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘪’𝘥 you to pieces – now that I think about it, I’m actually fine with that, but I get your drift, not sure I agree, but I get it.

  • Laurence Erasmus says:

    Her resignation is to protect the “image of the ANC”, what hog-wash! The ANC deployed this corrupt looting cadre to the position of Speaker knowing full well that she has a long list of scandals trailing her tail! The ANC is a corrupt criminal gang. This proves it!

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    The very ‘chief lawmaker’ who recently rushed to court and actually argued that she cannot be arrested like any other citizen…!?

    trying to block the application of one
    of the laws she made.

  • Robert Morgan says:

    With any luck, now that her thieving little pudgy finger has been removed from the dike, there will now be a deluge of sodden cadres pouring from the dam of corruption she’s been plugging up. Hope someone is ready with a big net.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Never going to happen sadly! The deal is “ appear to fall on your sword” and we will patch you up afterwards”. When infact she’s probably planning to join MK and get a reprieve with Zuma “ the escape artists” help !

  • Alley Cat says:

    I am curious about why she did the honourable thing and resigned?? Is it because we have an election coming up? Does the ANC really think that this will pacify the voters and convince us that they have suddenly all become honourable??

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Yes and yes, kinda.

      But it’s mostly about removing a stick that the opposition can use to beat them with. The position of Speaker comes with special scrutiny attached to it. If, on the other hand, she was still a minister and not subject to any vote of no confidence debate, I highly doubt she would have resigned.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      Ahhh, the conspiracy theory:
      The ANC know about the “whistle blower” and the bribe. They know it is going to brew up into something ugly and will embarrass the party. And it is just before an election. So, a senior ANC cadre approaches her and convinces her to fall on her sword in the interests of the ANC that must been seen to be doing something constructive before an election (sort of like the sacrificial lamb).
      In return they pay for a team of good lawyers (or find a way to make the taxpayer pay) to keep her out of jail. She gets to keep her ill gotten gains (which have probably been spent already) and when the dust settles she quietly gets an ambassadorial post in Uzbekistan.

      • Cameron murie says:

        That sounds all more or less what we would expect. I think you are right.
        I can’t get my head around what these people earn, and still need to steal so much more.

    • David B says:

      If she resigns she can’t be fired and she keeps her pension. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the deal is that she will receive a presidential pardon soon after being convicted or will be released on medical parole. No honour, just strategy

  • Kevin Venter says:

    I am not sure if resignation spares the ANC any kind of embarrassment. If found guilty (If there will even be any investigation in the first place), it will be yet another name on an already crowded list of dodgy dealers and zero consequence. They (The ANC) can surely see that their lack of action where ineptitude and corruption is concerned is hurting them at the polls. I can only hope that the voter base see through the propaganda and make a choice at the voting station that actually results in real positive change.
    I am not sure that coalition government is anything to look forward to judging by the state of Knysna. Inter party politics, bickering and finger pointing is not going to do anything to help the poor South Africans who need a working government the most, so that they can get out of their miserable existence to a better life. How ironic that “A better life for all” is the ANC slogan, a more fitting one would be “A better life for us”.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      Knysna is controlled by parties who are not part of any proposed coalition

    • jason du toit says:

      were she to be found guilty: “the integrity of the ANC is beyond reproach, as can be seen by the proactive actions of the ANC in ensuring that the speaker stepped down when first accused of wrongdoing. our wonderful organisation has a zero tolerance towards corruption.”

    • JDW 2023 says:

      I tend to want to agree. The embarrassment is already evident. It’s all just further damage control now.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    I take it that she is one of Zuma’s mates? So resignation and “waiting until the time is right” to answer the charges can only mean she’s hoping that MK can save her bacon and give her more time at the trough?

  • S N says:

    This case shows that the ANC is serious about fighting corruption. It also shows that government is winning against corruption.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    “By resigning as Speaker and MP, Mapisa-Nqakula has spared her party any possible embarrassment of having to publicly defend one of their own who privately had lost the confidence of the party.”

    You flatter her party. They are incapable of self reflection much less embarrassment.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    I suspect that Ramaphosa and others said to her that that would not support her with ANC flags flying, she is considered wholly a liability

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Good riddance to bad rubbish! Another anc stalwart steeped in corruption, criminality and hypocrisy. If it wasn’t for this being an election year and the date so close as well, the despicable anc would have done what it always does – shield and protect the multitude of thieves and scum in their party. It is also a clear indictment of the useless and spineless Cyril to retain/appoint such dishonest and lying individuals to office, knowing full well their history of thieving, ineptness and criminality. Party interest trumps all at the expense and detriment of the country and proves that all his hot air talk about fighting corruption is just that – hot air. No doubt we will see her recycled to become an ambassador at some point and taxpayer’s money will once again be used and abused to delay, deny, obfuscate etc. the legal process by sleazeballs like Mpofu. The sick circus carries on unabated!

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F – April 4th 2024 at 08-44
    She has done the right thing and certainly not before time. It must now be assumed that she will appear in court to face the full force of the law and that all parliamentary salaries and benefits including the blue lights brigade will be cancelled forthwith. In the event of she being found not guilty of all charges any benefits which were cancelled can be reinstated.

  • John Patson says:

    In spite of weeks / months of this story, we still do not know what she is accused of doing.
    Who was this “contractor” and what were they selling?
    It is not as if South Africa was doing much on the defence front during 2017 -2019 — unless it was for tug boat services to get submarines stranded on sand bars refloated.
    Or was it for the mercenaries in northern Moçanbique ?
    No jury trials in South Africa and we all know judges are not influenced by what they read in the media, so why the secrecy?

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      I’m still wondering what one could hope to find while raiding someone’s home a full five years after the alleged crime has occurred. Does the ID really think corrupt people are that complacent?

    • Moruti Ledwaba says:

      Good afternoon Mr. Patson
      It has been widely reported that some General/Brigadier’s company run by his wife fraudulently got a tender from SANDF. The company was to deliver heavy Army equipments/machinery where SANDF soldiers where deployed. As fraudulent business activities go, the said company was required/offered to grease Ms. Mapisa-Nqakula’s palms, apparently to the tune of R2,3 or R4,5 mil whatever figure is correct. When it was discovered and the company was charged, the NPA/ID negotiated with her to turn state witness, I think they call it 204 witness. Testify truthfully to expose high ranking individual and upon conviction your case is looked at favourably, something like that. Either receive amnesty or reduced sentence, but only upon successful conviction of those you testified against. That’s my understanding

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F – April 4th 2024 at 08-50
    Why did it take so long, It must be assumed that she will now face a full investigation and court hearing and
    that, as this is will be a criminal case all legal costs will be for her personal account and not the tax payers. Furthermore all parliamentary salaries and privileges including transport and blue light brigades must be withdrawn. Any cancelled privileges can be reinstated at the conclusion of a trial provided it is proved beyond all doubt that she is not guilty on all and every count for which she is charged.

  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    Sinking ship, time for all the rats to start jumping

    • Noel Soyizwaphi says:

      DA will remain a 25 percent and less party. None of its Moon off shoots will help it get further than that. So, for as long as attitudes of the core DA voters continue to look down on the majority of South Africans, keep dreaming about the downfall of the ANC.

  • Anthony Krijger says:

    One thing is fairly certain, as she has resigned, there is no way she has access to public funds to use in her legal defense. Unlike Zuma, Mkhwebane & the rest, all using millions in taxpayers money to fund their Stalingrad defenses.

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    Yet again thanks to the unrelenting pressure for years from the DA !

  • Rae Earl says:

    The ANC, according to SAFM News ‘Praised’ the awful person for resigning. The true story apparently is that members of the ANC NEC asked her to resign to avoid them having to protect her against the DA’s motion of No Confidence. It being election year the ANC hierarchy is terrified of adverse corruption publicity in senior party officials. How septic. Protect the comrades at all costs regardless of their crimes. But, when it’s election time, dump them and tell the voters what a wonderful party they have when it comes to fighting corruption. Septicaemia runs through the ANC veins in buckets.

  • Con Tester says:

    It’s election time and the ANC is intensely preoccupied with serious theatre productions meant to convince onlookers and the electorate that it is all-new, all-clean, all-fresh.

    With that in mind, a few possibilities emerge quite naturally: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation was either coaxed by pecuniary incentive, or forced by threat of more incriminating disclosures, or freely prompted by a conscience / honour / probity her history firmly denies she possesses in even the tiniest measure. The reader can decide which of these options is the most likely.

  • Respect for Truth says:

    The ANC can get embarrassed by bad behavior? Who knew?

  • Alan Thompson says:

    How have we all forgotten this woman smuggled a Burundian woman with a false passport into the country on an air force jet…?

  • Wacko Oh says:

    “Given the public trust entrusted in me”.
    Seriously, she needs to up the dose of her Anti-Psychotic Medication, because clearly she is not in touch with Reality or Truth or Honour, Integrity, Ethics, Principles, Morals, Righteousness, Decency etc etc. !!!

  • It was a good thing to do by the national assembly speaker to resign from parliament.

  • erroltemanie says:

    Sadness 😢

  • Michael Bowes says:

    She has the misfortune to be prosecuted in an election year – and the ANC must be seen to give a f@#k.

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