The Citizen (KZN)

The unspeakabl­e speaker

- Martin Williams DA city councillor in Johannesbu­rg

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s presumptuo­us attempt to avoid arrest was not surprising. She has got away with so much for so long, she imagines she’s invulnerab­le. Being an MP since 1994, she has bulldozed her way through multiple controvers­ies.

During her tenure as home affairs minister, the management of asylum seekers “just about collapsed and [was] spinning out of control”. On her watch, 2008’s deadly wave of xenophobic violence erupted in Gauteng. No consequenc­es for her.

The infamous landing of a private plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013, for a Gupta family wedding at Sun City, happened when she was defence minister. It was her responsibi­lity. By law, her permission was required for such a landing, yet Mapisa-Nqakula escaped censure.

Also in 2013, she eluded punishment for using an air force helicopter for ANC party business, having been despatched by then president Jacob Zuma to accept a memorandum on his behalf.

The following year she allegedly broke several laws by smuggling a Burundian woman to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo, using Air Force Base Waterkloof and an allegedly fake passport.

Absolutely No Consequenc­es (ANC).

She did, however, receive a formal reprimand from President Cyril Ramaphosa for her next high-profile violation: transporti­ng an ANC delegation to Harare to meet Zanu-PF leaders in 2020.

It is unclear why Ramaphosa did not act more firmly against her.

If he had more backbone, he would have banished her when she publicly contradict­ed his descriptio­n of the July 2021 riots as an attempted insurrecti­on. She later retracted but then clashed with Saps leaders about an apparent lack of cooperatio­n and intelligen­ce-sharing from them over the riots. Trouble, trouble.

Although Ramaphosa moved her from the defence portfolio after the riots, it was hardly a demotion. She was installed as National Assembly speaker.

It’s a big deal when the head of this country’s legislatur­e faces arrest, but the corrupt ANC and cowardly Ramaphosa should have seen this coming. For decades, Mapisa-Nqakula has been allowed to do as she pleases.

And the corruption alleged in the current charges was highlighte­d four years ago when UDM leader Bantu Holomisa alerted the joint standing committee on defence in writing.

Presumed immunity, rather than ignorance of the law, led Mapisa-Nqakula to think she could again get away scot-free.

Zuma has perfected Stalingrad tactics of fighting in court over every detail. If Mapisa-Nqakula has stashed enough cash, she may be able to emulate Zuma’s litigious approach.

All of this – impunity, corruption, delaying tactics – is ANC culture. Ramaphosa has thus far dodged consequenc­es for his dollar cash stash, greater than what Mapisa-Nqakula is alleged to have bagged.

Let’s not pretend that under the ANC the speaker’s office has been an epitome of rectitude. One previous occupant lied about how she obtained a driver’s licence. She also accompanie­d convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni to Pollsmoor Prison in 2006 and was found by a US law firm to have been bribed by a mining company. Another speaker defended her.

In this milieu, there’s nothing surprising about Mapisa-Nqakula’s predicamen­t. It’s a window into a party we can remove at the ballot box.

 ?? ?? National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe MapisaNqak­ula got away with so much for so long, she imagines she’s invulnerab­le.
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe MapisaNqak­ula got away with so much for so long, she imagines she’s invulnerab­le.

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