From dodgy Covid-19 drug move to ‘insurrection’ denial — a wrap of the year it was for Mapisa-Nqakula

24 December 2021 - 13:00
National Assembly speaker and former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
National Assembly speaker and former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Image: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deaan Vivier

National Assembly speaker and former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has had her fair share of negative reports and allegations of wrongdoing in 2021. 

Here’s a wrap of the four times she and her department made news headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Cuban Covid-19 drug

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) forked out more than R200m to procure close to a million doses of interferon from Cuba to protect members of the defence force from Covid-19.

This was done despite the drug not being registered with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra). The SANDF also bypassed the procurement laws in importing it into the country.

In February, Mapisa-Nqakula said she didn’t know the drug was not registered with Sahpra.

July unrest — was it an insurrection?

The former minister landed in hot water again in July when she contradicted President Cyril Ramaphosa saying there was no evidence the violence that erupted in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng was an insurrection

She said the SANDF had described the unrest as “counterrevolution creeping in, in the form of criminality and thuggery”. This was in contradiction to Ramaphosa who had called it a “failed insurrection” attempt.

Mapisa-Nqakula later conceded the unrest was a failed insurrection.

“The president has spoken. It was an attempted insurrection. I confined myself to counter-revolutionary but ultimately, remember, any element of counterrevolution may lead to insurrection in a country,” she said.

Given the National Assembly speaker chair

Despite the controversy surrounding her, Mapisa-Nqakula was appointed National Assembly speaker in Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle in August.

Former speaker Thandi Modise was appointed the new minister of defence and military veterans.

Call for Mapisa-Nqakula’s removal 

The DA in August welcomed the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into the July unrest, saying security cluster ministers including Mapisa-Nqakula must be sacked if found to have misled the country regarding the insurrection.

R5m ‘corruption’ allegations 

Mapisa-Nqakula was accused of allegedly receiving a R5m bribe from a military contractor. She was also accused of  blowing R7m on aircraft charters and living it up at luxury hotels. She denied the accusations.

The defence committee dropped the investigation in September after a whistle-blower allegedly sent the committee from pillar to post. 

The committee said it took a serious stance on corruption allegations but they must be backed up by credible evidence.


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