This is how Speakers have been embroiled in scandals

Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is also facing a motion of no confidence in parliament. Graphic/IOL

Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is also facing a motion of no confidence in parliament. Graphic/IOL

Published Mar 24, 2024


Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is in the crosshairs of the prosecuting authorities over allegations that she received millions in bribes from a service provider in the department of defence when she was the minister.

However, she is not the first Speaker to be caught in a scandal. Former speaker Thandi Modise, who succeeded Mapisa-Nqakula at defence, was also charged for animal cruelty by the courts in the North West.

This after AfriForum privately prosecuted Modise after 50 pigs, sheep, chickens and other animals were found dead at her farm in the North West.

But Modise survived the scandal after she was acquitted in court. But AfriForum and the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) have appealed the decision of the court.

Another former speaker Baleka Mbete was implicated in a bribery scandal more than 10 years ago. Mbete, who had two stints as speaker, was implicated in bribery allegations after her Black Economic Empowerment shares in a mining company were increased.

This was after the mining company, Gold Fields, increased Mbete’s share allocation to R25 million and a report by a US law firm found that this constituted bribery.

But Mbete denied this and said she received no cash from the company, but maintained she was a shareholder. Mbete declared her shares of R27m in the Register of Members’ Interest in Parliament.

Parliament was roped in to investigate the bribery allegations against Mbete after United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa lodged a complaint to the Ethics Committee.

Holomisa wanted the Ethics Committee to investigate that Mbete “may have improperly acquired shares”.

The ethics committee cleared Mbete in 2014.

The committee found that when Mbete acquired the shares at Gold Fields in 2010 she was not an MP.

Mbete had served as Speaker from 2004 to 2008. She was appointed deputy president in 2008 after former president Thabo Mbeki was removed.

Max Sisulu was speaker from 2009 until 2014 and he was succeeded by Mbete when she returned to parliament in 2014.

Then public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane also cleared Mbete in 2019 after she found that the allegations against her were baseless.

Mapisa-Nqakula is caught in another scandal that alleged she solicited and received bribes to the tune of R2.3m from a contractor in the department of defence.

The scandal first came to light in 2021 when Independent Media reported that Mapisa-Nqakula, who was the minister of defence at the time, received bribes amounting to millions of rands.

This led to the joint standing committee on defence to start an investigation into the matter.

Holomisa brought the allegations to the committee, when he reported it to the joint standing committee on defence in 2021.

But the whistleblower failed to provide an affidavit to back up her claims against Mapisa-Nqakula.

The contractor failed to show up at meetings of the joint standing committee on defence to shed more light.

This led to the committee to drop its investigation against Mapisa-Nqakula. This was a month after she was appointed speaker in August 2021.

This week the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate raided Mapisa-Nqakula’s house in Johannesburg.

The speaker is now taking the matter to the High Court to prevent law enforcement agencies from arresting her.

Mapisa-Nqakula has taken special leave from her duties in parliament.

But the official opposition has tabled a motion of no confidence against her. It has asked other political parties to support the motion to remove the speaker from office.

The speaker indicated early this year that she was retiring after the elections.

[email protected]

IOL Politics