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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Mapisa-Nqakula’s deployment ‘a bad swap’ with predecessor Thandi Modise

The ANC emphatically voted her into the office with 199 against Lotriet’s 82 which gave her a clear majority victory.

As expected, the ANC has had its way as Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was elected the sixth speaker of the National Assembly with a clear majority against her opponent, Dr Annelie Lotriet – but experts believed it’s a missed opportunity to elect a speaker acceptable to all parties.

Political analyst Sanusha Naidu believed Mapisa-Nqakula’s deployment was a bad swap with her predecessor, Thandi Modise, who was appointed as minister of defence and military veterans by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“It’s a promotion because it’s equivalent to a deputy president post and it comes with serious responsibly and management of the National Assembly in terms of the constitution and holding the executive accountable,” Naidu said.

She saw the swap as a contradiction because it’s basically a promotion for Mapisa-Nqakula but a demotion for Modise.

“This is not the way we should be doing it,” Naidu said.

Meanwhile, civil society organisation Freedom Under Law (FUL) objected to the choice of Western Cape judge president John Hlophe as presiding judge for the occasion.

FUL chief executive Nicole Fritz said Hlophe was unsuitable because he was found guilty of judicial misconduct by the judicial conduct committee of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The JSC was expected to pronounce its decision on Hlophe’s possible impeachment.

“Given the allegations, it would seem inappropriate to designate Hlophe as the presiding judge in the election of the speaker,” Fritz said.

“The symbolic significance of the occasion is obvious, underscoring as it does the power and responsibility of our country’s legislature and the national unity and indivisibility of the republic.”

The ANC emphatically voted her into the office with 199 against Lotriet’s 82 which gave her a clear majority victory.

However, the balloting had an interesting twist with 17 spoilt ballots, a significant number that indicated that there was a protest against Mapisa-Nqakula’s election in the ANC.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance raised an objection to Mapisa-Nqakula’s nomination, saying that she was being promoted instead of being demoted or dismissed.

Her election would be challenged in court by a group of people, including civil society organisation New Nation Movement and two political commentators and current affairs show hosts, Dr Onkgopotse JJ Tabane and Lukhona Mnguni.

They claimed she was not fit to hold office due to allegations of corruption against her pertaining to an alleged R5 million bribe she got from a contractor when she was defence minister.

She allegedly blew R7 million on aircraft charters and living in luxury hotels.

Naidu questioned what would happen to Mapisa-Nqakula, if the standing committee on defence is probing the corruption allegations against her, confirmed she was indeed bribed for a defence contract.

“Will she recuse herself or let her professionalism be compromised?” she asked. Besides, she would be facing challenges from the Economic Freedom Fighters, which could get under her skin in parliament.

Mapisa-Nqakula has a bumpy road ahead. She was the first speaker to be elected under a cloud but not the first ANC politician to occupy a high office while facing corruption allegations.

Former president Jacob Zuma was also elected to the high office despite facing arms deal corruption charges.

– ericn@citizen.co.za