South Africa Parliament Speaker resigns after allegations she took KSh16M, wig in bribes

South Africa Parliament Speaker resigns after allegations she took KSh16M, wig in bribes

South Africa’s Speaker of National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula resigned Wednesday, April 3, a day after losing a court bid to stop her arrest over allegations of corruption.

In a statement seen by TV47 Digital, Mapisa-Nqakula says she has decided to step aside in order to dedicate her time and focus in dealing with the allegations levelled against her.

“My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding the allegations being levelled against me,” Mapisa-Nqakula is quick to point out.

South Africa’s National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula. The National Assembly is the more powerful of the two houses of South Africa’s Parliament. PHOTO/COURTESY

In what marks a rare occurrence of a South African public official stepping down after facing accusations of graft, Mapisa-Nqakula says she quit in order to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the nation’s Parliament.

“The position of the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa is critical in the reconstruction and development of our country. Given the seriousness of the much-publicized allegations against me, I cannot continue in this role,” she says. “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 of must continue without blemish.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa next to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The speaker’s graft allegations is not uncommon within ANC, with the party’s leaders having faced a litany of corruption allegations over the years. Most notably, former president, Jacob Zuma, was found guilty of overseeing widespread looting of state coffers to enrich himself, his family and his friends. PHOTO/COURTESY

A member of independence party, African National Congress (ANC), Mapisa-Nqakula — while maintaining her innocence — says she has spent half “my life in the forefront of the struggle to defend the freedom and rights of all South Africans, 30 of these years in my capacity as Member of Parliament and the Executive.”

“Part of the principle for which me and many other comrades fought for, is the principle for every South African to be deemed innocent until proven guilty. Given the public trust entrusted in me as a Speaker of our National Assembly and the need for me to protect the image of our organisation the African National Congress, I have an obligation, despite the principle that I should be deemed innocent, to step down from my office.”

Corruption allegations

The 67-year-old became the Speaker of Parliament in 2021.

Previously she served in government as the defense minister from 2012 to 2021.

It is during this period that she is accused of soliciting $120,000 (KSh15,840,000) from a business seeking a tender to transfer army equipment to South Africa from other parts of the continent.

According to court documents, in one occasion in February 2019, Mapisa-Nqakula received more than $15,000 and a wig during a meeting at South African main international airport.

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