‘A complete mockery’: DA appalled by ANC’s pick for speaker
Mantashe convinced Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is right for the job. Her track record suggests otherwise, says opposition
The DA has slammed the ANC’s decision to recommend former minister of defence and military veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as national assembly speaker.
Mapisa-Nqakula was axed as minister in president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle last week after the government’s poor handling of the riots that gripped parts of Gauteng and KZN. She was not retained in any capacity, with Ramaphosa saying during the reshuffle that she would be deployed to a new position.
Thandi Modise replaced her as minister, leaving the speaker of the national assembly position vacant — and ANC national chair Gwede Mantashe announced Mapisa-Nqakula as candidate for the position at a special caucus meeting on Tuesday.
The opposition DA, however, said the decision to nominate her was a “complete mockery of parliament and the constitution”.
“While the ANC seeks to give a glowing account of Mapisa-Nqakula’s tenure in government, the reality is that there is nothing to celebrate. She is not fit to lead parliament as she does not espouse the principles of accountability and transparency required to lead the institution. This nomination is just an example of the ANC recycling an underperforming minister,” said DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.
The party cited various concerns with Mapisa-Nqakula, including that she had not been held to account for allegedly smuggling a Burundian woman, who had been in a romantic relationship with her late son, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to SA aboard an air force jet.
“She also famously oversaw the ANC’s jaunt to Zimbabwe on board an air force jet, which was a violation of lockdown regulations and also a brazen abuse of state resources.
“It was under her watch and knowledge that the SA Defence Force (SANDF) purchased the unregistered interferon drug from Cuba,” Mazzone said.
The speaker is elected from the national assembly’s 400 members by secret ballot. With 230 members, the ANC’s candidate is most likely to succeed.
The DA said it would not support Mapisa-Nqakula’s nomination.
“There are clearly numerous instances of her seemingly abusing her position of power and disregarding ethics standards for her own political and personal gain,” said Mazzone.
“How can the ANC nominate and support an individual whose track record is one of contempt of the very principles parliament seeks to uphold and promote?”
Shortly after 10am on Tuesday, Mantashe told the specially convened caucus meeting that the party leadership was convinced Mapisa-Nqakula was the most suitable candidate for the job and would be able to handle its pressures.
There are clearly numerous instances of her seemingly abusing her position of power and disregarding ethics standards for her own political and personal gain.DA chief whip Natasha Mazonne
He said the ANC leadership was not imposing her on the caucus, but it was its desire to have her occupy the position.
“The most important thing is that Mapisa-Nqakula, having been moved from defence, we are putting her up as candidate for speaker of parliament in the national assembly,” said Mantashe.
“We are throwing that to caucus because caucus has the authority to deal with that issue. We hope she will be a candidate and will be selected as speaker.”
Mantashe noted the move would create a challenge for Modise because cabinet ministers were paid less than a speaker.
Mantashe also updated ANC MPs about the other changes brought about by Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle.
He said he was pleasantly surprised that one of the ratings agencies had put its weight behind Enoch Godongwana as new minister of finance.
“We monitor reactions, and the reaction is overall positive with few exceptions of negativity. I was shocked by one of the ratings agencies putting their weight behind him. That was quite important,” he said.
Mantashe also explained Ramaphosa’s decision to put state security under the presidency. He said this had been the case under former president Nelson Mandela’s presidency, with then deputy minister responsible for intelligence affairs, Joe Nhlanhla, reporting directly to the president.
He said they were applying their minds on how to manage this development.
While Mantashe went through all the new changes, he specifically mentioned how he called new health minister Joe Phaahla to congratulate him on his promotion. He said the long-serving health deputy minister deserved it.
Parliament is yet to announce the date for the new speaker’s election.