A clarion call for ethical leadership in SA

South Africa - Pretoria - 04 April 2024. Former Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

South Africa - Pretoria - 04 April 2024. Former Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 8, 2024


The recent developments involving Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stepping down from her role as Speaker of the National Assembly have highlighted South Africa’s persistent challenge with maintaining ethical leadership.

Subsequently, the Speaker voluntarily presented herself at the Lyttelton Police Station in Tshwane in response to an ongoing investigation tracking a multi-million rand corruption case.

According to DA Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube, in both individual actions and governance, the ANC has perpetuated the notion that accusations of misconduct are acceptable for leaders and removal from office should only follow a criminal conviction, a rare occurrence.

“This mindset, embraced by the ruling party, signifies a troubling trend in South African politics, but it should not define the nation's ethical standards. South Africans must demand higher expectations for their elected officials, who hold the responsibility of representing and leading the populace.

“DA must demand more from those who have been elected to public office. They should be the best among us, as they are entrusted with the responsibility of representing and leading us all.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent remarks regarding Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation highlight the ANC’s abysmally low standards of accountability for its leaders.

“By applauding her departure, without acknowledging the seriousness of corruption allegations against her, Ramaphosa underscores the party’s reluctance to uphold ethical leadership. Instead of reflecting on Mapisa-Nqakula’s actions, he portrays her resignation as an act of heroism, revealing the ANC's lack of commitment to genuine accountability amidst mounting political pressure.

“Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation as Speaker of the National Assembly cannot be viewed in isolation but rather as a response to persistent calls for accountability. When allegations of corruption and money laundering surfaced, the DA asserted that a leader of the legislative arm must uphold public trust and be beyond reproach.”

The subsequent raid on her home by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) further fuelled doubts about her suitability for office, Gwarube added.

“As it became evident that Mapisa-Nqakula intended to use parliamentary resources to fight legal battles, the DA initiated a motion of no confidence, underscoring the necessity of ethical leadership within South Africa’s highest institutions.”

She added that she personally wrote to all political parties represented in Parliament, including the ANC, imploring them to support this motion to protect the integrity of the institution. The whole debacle was becoming an increasingly untenable national spectacle.

“Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation only came once the political and legal walls were closing in on her, and not a moment sooner. The assertion that her decision to step down was made with the interests of parliament in mind is difficult to believe.”

Gwarube said that Mapisa-Nqakula’s case is just one among many within the ANC, with several party members implicated in the Zondo commission report.

The list includes both current and former government ministers such as Gwede Mantashe, Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane, Dipuo Peters, Zizi Kodwa, and Lynne Brown. These individuals stand accused of exploiting their positions for personal gain, highlighting systemic issues within the party.

The ANC has rewarded political expediency, factionalism and accountability, perpetuating a culture where repercussions are reserved solely for those whose political standing has faltered.

“This pattern reflects the party’s unwavering loyalty to its factions over the interests of the nation, leading to a shield of protection for favoured members while neglecting the welfare of the South African people.”

“The party’s stance on ethical leadership is evident in its response to various scandals that have plagued the ANC government. From the Phala Phala ‘dollars stuffed into a pocket’ scandal to corruption at Eskom, the DA has consistently called for thorough investigations and swift action against those implicated.”

Additionally, Gwarube said under Mapisa-Nqakula’s leadership, efforts to implement recommendations from the Zondo Commission were thwarted by the ANC caucus in Parliament. The visual of her appearing in court should act as a clear warning to politicians who have previously relied on their party’s support to evade accountability.

Gwarube said as citizens of South Africa, it was imperative that we demand better from our leaders.

“When political parties shield corrupt individuals, we must hold those parties accountable.”