Parliament gathered for a special sitting to elect a new National Assembly Speaker and with the ANC enjoying majority representation, former Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was elected to succeed Thandi Modise.
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula election divides Parliament
As per the norm, Parliament’s National Assembly Chamber was abuzz with disruptions to an ad-hoc proceeding that should have been cut-and-dry.
However, despite the heckling, the ANC enjoyed the fruits of its representation in Parliament and saw Mapisa-Nqakula ascend past the DA’s candidate Annelie Lotriet to become the new Speaker.
Five things to know about Mapisa-Nqakula
Suffice it to say, Mapisa-Nqakula was the least favourite candidate on the ballot. Even before the special sitting, the EFF had pulled out of the election citing that it would not participate in “rubber stamping Mr Cyril Ramaphosa’s violation of separation of powers.”
The Red Berets noted that its lawyers would be consulted to determined the constitutionality of Ramaphosa’s decision to replace a National Assembly Speaker mid-term.
Despite the backlash she received in the days leading up to the election, Mapisa-Nqakula was ushered into a very influential position by the ruling party.
Here are five things you need to know about South Africa’s newly elected Speaker of Parliament:
She is currently being investigated for corruption
According to reports, South Africa’s new National Assembly Speaker is being investigated for allegedly accepting millions of rand in hush monies for a number of shoddy, underhanded defence contracts.
Currently, Parliament’s joint standing committee on Defence has assembled a task team to probe the claims.
Shutdown riots took place under her watch
Mapisa-Nqakula was a crucial cog in the government’s response to the wide-scale looting that crippled economic hubs in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng.
Not only did the former Defence Minister fail to react quickly in deploying army operatives to assist law enforcement efforts, she was caught at odds with Ramaphosa on the cause of the shutdown riots.
While the president claimed that the unrest was an insurrection attempt launched by forces with ulterior motives, Mapisa-Nqakula outrightly denied this, telling the joint standing committee on defence that the riots were neither an insurrection attempt nor acts of insurgence.
She smuggled a Burundian civilian using a false passport
In 2016, Parliament’s new Speaker admitted to the active role she played, as Defence Minister at the time, in smuggling a Burundian civilian into South Africa using a fake passport and a private jet only reserved for official public servants.
A track record of breaking lockdown laws
At the height of the first COVID-19 wave, Mapisa-Nqakula was in hot water for transporting an ANC delegation with no official government status to Zimbabwe using a SANDF plane.
She is one of ANC’s longest-serving members
Mapisa-Nqakula has been a high-ranking member of the ANC since the apartheid era. According to reports, the 65-year-old has, over the years, played a crucial role in providing strategy to structures of the ruling party. She is one of the fewest active ANC members to have served in the Cabinets of former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. This is the second position she’s assumed under the stewardship of Ramaphosa.