/ 10 August 2021

Top six chooses Mapisa-Nqakula as preferred parliamentary speaker candidate

Polls Wonít Be Postponed: Van Rooyen
Speak up: Former Defence and Military Veterans Minister; Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula during a media briefing. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Theana Breugem)

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe announced in an urgent ANC parliamentary caucus on Tuesday that former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will be the next speaker of parliament. This comes after the outgoing speaker, Thandi Modise, was appointed as the new defence minister in a major shakeup of the security cluster during a cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa this past Thursday. 

Modise is to be sworn in today at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

Mapisa-Nqakula, an ANC veteran and member of the national executive committee (NEC), went against the president in recent weeks when she contradicted him on the characterisation of the looting, arson and violence in July that affected parts of Gauteng and the KwaZulu-Natal as an insurrection. 

Mapisa-Nqakula and ministers in the security cluster, including Police Minister Bheki Cele and former minister of intelligence Ayanda Dlodlo, were blamed for the government’s response to the unrest. In his cabinet reshuffle, Ramaphosa moved Dlodlo back to her previous position of minister of public service and administration.

During his announcement of his reconfigured reshuffle, Ramaphosa said Mapisa-Nqakula would be deployed to a new position, and thanked her for her service to the nation and dedication to her responsibilities.

The Mail & Guardian understands that the decision to redeploy Mapisa-Nqakula was taken with the approval of the top ANC officials and the party’s alliance partners, trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party. 

“Comrade Gwede was only affirming what we already knew would happen. It was clear that she would be the next speaker. I agree with the decision. She is capable and I believe she will be as effective as Comrade Thandi,” an MP told the M&G.

Ramaphosa said the reshuffle came at a time when South Africa was dealing with the Covid-19 vaccination programme and economic reconstruction and needed to build capacity to deliver in these key areas.

He scrapped the state security ministry, moving the function to the presidency. Dlodlo’s former deputy, Zizi Kodwa, is now deputy minister in the presidency responsible for state security.

Ramaphosa said the consolidation of the security cluster in the presidency would improve its strategic management and its effectiveness. “This is to ensure that the country’s domestic and foreign intelligence services more effectively enable the president to exercise his responsibility to safeguard the security and integrity of the nation.” 

Cele survived the reshuffle.

Asserting further control over the intelligence sector, Ramaphosa replaced Charles Nqakulan with Sydney Mufamadi, who led his high-level review of intelligence, as national security adviser.

Ramaphosa said the security shake-up would also include the appointment of an expert three-person panel headed by Professor Sandy Africa, with advocate Mojanku Gumbi and Silumko Sokupa assisting. The panel would conduct a thorough analysis of the state’s “level of preparedness and shortcomings in our response”.

Other changes included separating human settlements from the water and sanitation department and making it a standalone ministry under Senzo Mchunu. Mmamoloko Kubayi will take over the human settlements department. Lindiwe Sisulu, who headed up the human settlements, water and sanitation department, is now the tourism minister.