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Under-threat speaker takes leave instead of resigning

Former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has ignored calls for her to protect the integrity of parliament by resigning from her position as speaker of the National Assembly.

Instead, she has opted to take a “special leave of absence” amid reports that the SAPS’ Hawks unit planned to arrest her on Friday.

The Hawks raided her Johannesburg home earlier this week to seize evidence related to claims that she sought a bribe of over R2.3-million from a company that won tenders from her department.

The allegations stem from the time when she was minister of defence.

“Given the seriousness of the allegations and the attendant extensive media speculation, I have decided to take special leave from my position as Speaker of the National Assembly effective immediately,” she said.

“This decision has been communicated to the Secretary of Parliament and the President of the Republic.”

She said she was protecting the image of parliament by taking leave.

“I assure the nation of my willingness to cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies on any matter that may arise,” she said.

Despite widespread speculation that she would be arrested on Friday, Mapisa-Nqakula said she has not been notified of any imminent arrest.

“There has been no formal notification of an arrest warrant or communication regarding my imminent arrest, neither to me nor my legal team,” she said.

“My lawyers have, however, proactively informed the National Prosecution Authority of my readiness to comply and cooperate should the need arise,” she said in a statement.

The DA said the raids and possible arrest of the speaker “reinforces our call for the speaker to step down immediately”.

“We are now looking at the Leader of the Legislative Arm of State not only accused but possibly arrested and charged for corruption,” said Siviwe Gwarube, the chief whip of the official opposition.

“There is therefore no other way. The Speaker must step down. Failing to do so will bring Parliament into disrepute.”

Pictured above: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

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