Mapisa-Nqakula quits as speaker and MP to 'clear her good name'

She insists her resignation 'is not an admission of guilt'

03 April 2024 - 18:37
Former defence and military veterans minister and National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES Former defence and military veterans minister and National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. File photo.

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula bowed to pressure by resigning from her position and as an MP on Wednesday. 

In a statement issued in the name of her political adviser Mike Ramagoma, Mapisa-Nqakula said she had submitted her resignation letter to her deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, resigning with immediate effect.

She is accused of taking bribes from a contractor during her tenure as defence minister. She denies the accusations.

“I have made this conscious decision to dedicate my time and focus to deal with the recently announced investigation against me by our country's law enforcement agencies,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

“My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding allegations being levelled against me. I have made this decision to uphold the integrity and sanctity of our parliament, an apex institution of our system of government, representing the people of SA as a whole.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said the position of 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 the 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.

“I believe that, at the right time, I will have the opportunity to thoroughly address these allegations as and when they have been formally brought against me in the appropriate forums, at which time I will clear my good name.”

Mapisa-Nqakula maintained her innocence, saying she was determined to restore her “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.”

She said a principle for which she and her comrades fought was the idea that every South African was innocent until proven guilty.

“Given the public trust entrusted in me as speaker and the need for me to protect the image of our organisation, the ANC, I have an obligation, despite the principle that I should be deemed innocent, to step down.

“I have written to my organisation informing the leadership of my decision and to thank the ANC for having given me the opportunity and trusting me with many senior leadership responsibilities in service of our people and our revolution over the years.

“I remain a dedicated member of the African National Congress, a movement I have remained loyal to all my political life.” 

The ANC confirmed having received Mapisa-Nqakula's resignation letter.

“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.

“Comrade Lechesa Tsenoli will continue in his role as the acting speaker. Should there be any other changes these will be communicated in due course,” said national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu.

Mapisa-Nqakula was an MP and member of the executive for 30 years.

Ramagoma and parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo were not immediately available for comment.

Mapisa-Nqakula was under pressure to resign from within and outside the ANC after revelations that authorities were investigating allegations against her. This week she lost a court case challenging her pending arrest. Speculation was rife that she would be handing herself over to the police this week.

The ANC Youth League on Wednesday said that Mapisa-Nqakula should not drag the ANC into her clashes with the law.

League secretary Mntuwoxolo Ngudle called on Mapisa-Nqakula to recuse herself from the ANC to have time to deal with her legal battles.

“She must face the might of the law and must recuse herself from the brand named the ANC to deal with the brand named Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. She must not drag [down] the name of the ANC,” said Ngudle.

He said that the ANC was clear that anyone at odds with the law must step aside.