Sacked Minister Mapisa-Nqakula Is New Speaker

The former defence minister and senior African National Congress (ANC) member, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was on Thursday elected as Speaker of Parliament.

Amid murmurs of disapproval, Mapisa-Nqakula took her seat in Parliament and had to repeatedly say “order honourable members” before she could get her acceptance speech going.

Detractors had pointed to allegations of wrongdoing as reasons for not voting for Mapisa-Nqakula as Speaker.

News24 is reporting that Mapisa-Nqakula was under investigation for allegedly receiving a R5 million bribe from a defence contractor, blowing R7 million on aircraft charters and living it up at luxury hotels.  

Unfazed by the criticism, Mapisa-Nqakula braved it out.

“My task is well cut out,” she said with reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mapisa-Nqakula said new ways of working would have to be found to ensure Parliament carried out its oversight role.

She said she was extending a hand of cooperation to each political party and each member of the House.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she would “never betray the people of South Africa”. Again there were murmurs from her detractors.

She thanked the ANC and its leaders by name for the “confidence and opportunity” they gave her to serve in various capacities in the executive.

When the new Speaker mentioned Jacob Zuma’s name, again the murmurs filled the August House.

“I intend to use my tenure as Speaker to foster further cooperation and ensure fair leadership in this House,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula, the sixth Speaker of Parliament, said she was committed to the constitution.

Nominated by the ANC, Mapisa-Nqakula won the election to Speaker with 199 votes far ahead of her rival, Democratic Alliance candidate Annelie Lotriet, who only got 82 votes.

There were 17 spoiled votes.

At the end of the proceedings, ANC members clapped while the opposition benches again made noises of disapproval.

Earlier this month Mapisa-Nqakula was removed as defence minister after the deadly unrest that left more than 300 people dead. She was replaced by former Speaker Thandie Modise.

On Wednesday the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said they would not participate in the voting of the Speaker.

The EFF said it was taking the legal route because it alleged that President Cyril Ramaphosa was “hell-bent on undermining the separation of powers”.

“We as the EFF will not be part of undermining SA’s democratic order and will do everything in our power to fight against Ramaphosa’s emerging despotic order.”

Law firm Mabuza Attorneys earlier in the week told Deputy Speaker of Parliament Lechesa Tsenoli that its clients were opposed to the election of Mapisa-Nqakula as National Assembly Speaker.

The law firm says they represent a growing number of individual citizens, led by TV host Dr. Onkgopotse Tabane.

The litigants included a non-governmental organization calling itself the New Nation Movement.

The law had been instructed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the election of Mapisa-Nqakula as Speaker, but evidently, that failed and she was duly elected.