/ 3 April 2024

Mapisa-Nqakula resigns to ‘protect’ parliament, ANC

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. File photo

Under fire National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has resigned, a day after the High Court dismissed her application to stop the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) from arresting her on corruption charges.

Mapisa-Nqakula said in a media statement which was issued by parliament on Wednesday evening that she had handed her resignation to acting speaker Lechesa Tsenoli. 

It would take effect immediately.

Mapisa-Nqakula is being investigated by the NPA and the Hawks over alleged corruption and bribery over a series of payments and benefits totalling R2.3 million from a military contractor during her term as minister of defence.

She had gone to court to try and prevent her arrest, but has subsequently agreed to hand herself over to the police.

The contractor, Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, the sole director of Umkhombe Marine (Pty) Ltd, has now turned state witness.

In her statement, Mapisa-Nqakula said she had decided to resign “in order to dedicate my time and focus to deal with the recently announced investigation against me by our country’s law enforcement agencies”. 

“My resignation is in no way an indication of admission of guilt regarding the allegations being levelled against me,” she said.

“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.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said that she could not continue in the role of speaker, given the seriousness of the allegations against her.

“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.

She said that at the appropriate time, she would have the opportunity to “clear my good name” when the matter came before the appropriate forum.

“I maintain my innocence and am determined to restore my good reputation.”  

“As a member of the ANC, I have spent half my life in the forefront of the struggle to defend the freedom and rights of all South Africans, 30 of those years in my capacity as a member of parliament and the executive.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said she had an “obligation” to step down to protect the ANC and her office, despite her innocence.

She said she had written to the ANC informing the party of her decision and thanking it for having trusted her with senior leadership roles over the years.

The ANC in a statement confirmed that the office of secretary general Fikile Mbalula had received her letter of resignation.

Spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said that the former speaker had informed the party that she had done so in order to protect its reputation.

“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,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that the party “noted, and welcomes” the resignation and thanked the former speaker for her service.

Hlengwa said the decision was a “responsible” one as it allowed her to “focus on her legal matters without dragging parliament along any further” as parliament still had work to do which must continue without compromise or interruption.

“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.”