South Africa

‘I maintain my innocence’ – Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula resigns from Parliament

Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula 2

Corruption-accused Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has resigned from Parliament.

The former National Assembly Speaker is set to face charges of 12 counts of corruption and one of money laundering involving R4.5 million dating back to when she was defence minister.

WATCH: NPA says Mapisa-Nqakula isn’t getting preferential treatment

“Today, the 3rd of April, I have submitted to the Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Lechesa Tsenoli, my letter of resignation as both the Speaker of National Assembly and a Member of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. The resignation is effective immediately,” she said in her statement of resignation.

“I have made this conscious decision in order to dedicate my time and focus to deal with the recently announced investigation against me by our country’s law enforcement agencies.”

‘No indication of guilt’ – Mapisa-Nqakula

Mapisa-Nqakula said her resignation is “in no way an indication of admission of guilt” regarding those allegations.

“I have made this decision in order uphold the integrity and sanctity of our Parliament, an apex institution of our system of government, representing of the People of South Africa as a whole.

“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.

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“Given the seriousness of the much-publicised allegations against me, I cannot continue in this role. 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.

“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. I maintain my innocence and am determined to restore my good reputation.”

ANC commends former MP

Shortly after her resignation was made public, the African National Congress (ANC) confirmed her resignation had been officially received by Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula.

“In her resignation, Comrade Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted her intention to protect the reputation of our organisation, the African National Congress, after dedicating more than 30 years of service,” a statement from the party read.

“We value her commitment to maintaining the image of our organisation, as it reflects our principles of
organisational renewal that promotes proactive responsibility-taking among members, rather than waiting for instructions to step aside.”

‘Dedicated to the defence of freedom’

Mapisa-Nqakula said as a member of the ANC, she had spent half her life on the forefront of the struggle “to defend the freedom and rights of all South Africans”.

She said 30 of these years were in her capacity as a 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.

WATCH: ‘Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula must present herself to police finish and klaar’

“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.

“I have also written to my organisation the thank African National Congress informing the leadership of my decision and to thank the ANC for having given me the opportunity and trusted 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.”

‘Innocent until proven guilty not a legitimate excuse’

Political analyst Dr Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said Mapisa-Nqakula’s “grudging” resignation letter “played into the fractured ANC’s permanent sense that sabotage within the party continues to tie down organisational renewal efforts”.

“Despite being accused of corruption while serving as a cabinet minister, Mapisa-Nqakula’s portrayal of herself as the real victim of a witchhunt shows a telling lack of contrition,” he said.

“This resignation may reflect the ANC president’s growing confidence to drop politically tainted individuals from his team. Still, it also reinforces that time is limited and the party has achieved too little in its fight against corruption.

“A bribery allegation is a complex matter to brush aside. But the yet-to-be-finalised charges by the prosecuting authority reinforce the idea that the ANC president must correctly apply concepts such as corruption and integrity to ministers and parliamentarians, with lack of intent and innocent until proven guilty not regarded as a legitimate excuse.”

No special treatment from the NPA

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) denied it was giving Mapisa-Nqakula special treatment ahead of her arrest.

The speaker will have to hand herself over to authorities after her urgent Pretoria High Court application to block her arrest for corruption allegations was struck off the roll on Tuesday.

Gauteng High Court Judge Sulet Potterill found no urgency in her interdict application.

Mapisa-Nqakula approached the court last week to block her arrest pending the handing over of her docket, which the state argued was bizarre.

Additional reporting by Faizel Patel and Brian Sokutu