South Asia and Beyond

South Africa’s Parliamentary Speaker Faces Arrest For Corruption

 South Africa’s Parliamentary Speaker Faces Arrest For Corruption

File Picture of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa standing next to Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, left, ahead of his state of the nation address at the City Hall in Cape Town on February 8, 2024. (AP)

South Africa’s parliamentary speaker is now facing arrest after a court found her guilty over corruption charges on Tuesday. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who is a senior member of the ruling African National Congress party, is accused of receiving bribes from a defense contractor while she was defense minister. According to an Africa News report, she received 11 payments totaling $135,000 between December 2016 and July 2019. She sought another bribe of $105,000 but that wasn’t paid, prosecutors said.

Speaking to reporters after the judgment was delivered, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga did not say when the arrest would be made but confirmed the judgement paved the way for it to occur.

“Obviously the wheels of justice will now be in motion, as we were listening to the judgment, which was well reasoned,” Mhaga said.

“We have always maintained that this is unprecedented, and it was unnecessary for us to be brought to court. We have always maintained that the process of arrest will be done seamlessly,” he added.

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Nqakula’s arrest is the latest of African National Congress (ANC) leaders who have been caught for corruption which could be to the advantage of former South African president Jacob Zuma. One a member of the ANC, Zuma denounced the party in 2023. He has been campaigning for the recently formed uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation) party where he is a candidate. In what is likely to be the most competitive elections since 1994, the ruling ANC government has spared no effort to get him and his new party de-registered. South Africa’s electoral commission has quashed bids to deregister the party. Zuma can no longer contest elections but his party could benefit.

Polling by the Social Research Foundation (SRF) in February suggests that when voters in KwaZulu-Natal were asked to choose between just the ANC and the MK, more than 60 percent of voters – and at least 70 percent of Black voters – said they would vote for the MK. Fewer than 20 percent of voters said they would choose the ANC over the MK.

From the ANC, president Cyril Ramaphosa is the most likely to be the party’s candidate as he seeks another term. Ramaphosa faces an uphill task as power blackouts, troubled economy, and graft allegations have hurt the party’s image. According to AP if the ANC gets below 50% of the vote and gets 40% as is currently being predicted it will have to form a coalition government for the first time in its history.

Ashwin Ahmad

Traveller, bibliophile and wordsmith with a yen for international relations. A journalist and budding author of short fiction, life is a daily struggle to uncover the latest breaking story while attempting to be Hemingway in the self-same time. Focussed especially on Europe and West Asia, discussing Brexit, the Iran crisis and all matters related is a passion that endures to this day. Believes firmly that life without the written word is a life best not lived. That’s me, Ashwin Ahmad.