Mapisa-Nqakula resigns as National Assembly speaker, MP

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has resigned as speaker and MP with immediate effect. File photo.
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has resigned as speaker and MP with immediate effect. File photo.

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who recently took a special leave to deal with allegations of corruption, has resigned.

On Wednesday, Mapisa-Nqakula  resigned as the speaker and Member of Parliament.

She is accused of corruption and money laundering in 2016 when she was still minister of defence. Mapisa-Nqakula is facing 12 counts of corruption for allegedly soliciting and receiving bribes from a service provider while she was the minister.

The bribes, allegedly worth about R4.5m, include a wig which was seized when investigators raided her Joburg home last month. They also took away several documents.

In her resignation letter, Mapisa-Nqakula stated that she wanted to dedicate her time to the investigation against her. “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.”

She highlighted that her resignation should not be deemed as an admission of guilt. “I have made this decision in order to uphold the integrity and sanctity of our Parliament, an apex institution of our system of government, representing the people of South Africa as a whole.”

She said the position of the speaker was critical in the reconstruction and development of the country.  “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.” 

The speaker’s resignation comes a day after she lost a bid to interdict her arrest on the bases that she is a senior citizen and that the state has a weak case against her.

She also wanted the state to submit all diaries or logbooks, witness statements and all evidence that form part of the investigation to her lawyer. 

However, state advocate Makhosi Gwala, SC, argued that Mapisa-Nqakula's application was an abuse of court processes.

“We could have gone and arrested [her] but we chose not to do that and we said let's do it in a seamless way, which is less invasive.  All we want is so that the court can fix bail. The applicant wants to frustrate us in the performance of our statutory function," Gwala said. 

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu on Wednesday issued a statement confirming Mapisa-Nqakula's decision and that the party has welcomed it.

"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," said Bhengu.

Mapisa-Nqakula's deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, has since taken over the role of acting speaker.