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Failed Defence Minister promoted to Speaker of Parliament

Hot on the heels of being booted from the cabinet, outgoing Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will fill the vacant position of Speaker of Parliament – much to… nearly everyone’s dismay. 

She effectively swapped positions with Thandi Modise, who Ramaphosa appointed to head up Mapisa-Nqakula’s previous ministry in last week’s reshuffle. Mapisa-Nqakula is emerging richer for it. Her salary is higher as speaker than as minister, increasing from the early R2 millions to nearly R3 million annually. 

Her nomination as Speaker by the ANC’s top six has been unsurprisingly unpopular with opposition parties and civil society, for two main reasons: 

  1. Her predecessor, Modise, was hugely popular among members of parliament across party lines; they saw her as being fair and balanced in running parliament. 
  2. Her nine-year tenure at defence was marked by controversy, including the alleged abuse of state resources. Parliament to set up a committee to investigate whether she received cash and gifts valued at R5 million from a contractor of the SANDF. Now that she is speaker the committee will have to present its findings ABOUT her TO her. This will present a conflict of interest.

Mapisa-Nqakula was ousted thanks to her part in government’s failed response to the recent looting.  Afterwards, she downplayed the seriousness of what happened and publicly contradicted Ramaphosa’s characterisation of the violence as an insurrection. It’s bizarre she’s now getting this position. 😬

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 12 August 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.