South Africa’s ex-speaker charged with money laundering, corruption

South Africa’s former speaker of parliament has been charged with corruption and money laundering, the latest scandal to plague the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ahead of elections in May.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who stepped down as speaker on Wednesday, appeared in a Pretoria court after surrendering to police and being formally detained.

“The charges against Ms Mapisa-Nqakula include 12 counts of corruption… and one count of money laundering,” Bheki Manyathi of the National Prosecuting Authority told the court.

When her lawyers asked her to be released on bail, the ANC veteran chose to remain silent.

“I am not a flight risk,” she said in a submission read out by lawyer Graham Kerr-Phillips. “I will receive a sum that I cannot afford to lose,” she added. State Pension,” she also described the case against her as weak.

The case adds to the ANC’s woes with less than two months to go before national elections. The ANC is struggling in the polls due to a weak economy and accusations of official corruption and mismanagement.

Mapisa-Nqakula is the latest in a series of senior ANC politicians, including the president and deputy president, to be embroiled in a corruption scandal.

The 67-year-old is accused of soliciting a huge bribe from a former military contractor while she was defense minister. She denies the accusations.

Mapisa-Nqakula took over her role as speaker and lawmaker with immediate effect on Wednesday, a day after she failed in court to head off her potential arrest.

She insisted in her resignation letter that she was innocent but said she decided to resign to safeguard the integrity of parliament and to focus on the investigation into her.

“Given the seriousness of the highly publicized allegations against me, I am unable to continue in this role,” she wrote.

It comes after members of the investigative team raided Mapisa-Nqakula’s home, a high-end property in Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs, in March.

Local media reported that she allegedly solicited a R2.3 million (£96,000) bribe from a former military contractor.

Parliament said she would be replaced by Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli. However, on Thursday, the opposition leader Democratic Alliance called for the urgent election of a new speaker.

Mapisa-Nqakula served as defense minister from 2014 to 2021 before being appointed speaker, a move that drew criticism from the opposition.

At the time, she was criticized for her perceived incompetence in responding to a series of deadly riots that left more than 300 people dead.

South Africans will go to the polls on May 29 to vote in the national and provincial elections.

The ANC’s vote share is expected to fall below 50% for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, potentially forcing it to form a coalition with rival parties to stay in power.

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