DA calls for the election of a new Speaker of the National Assembly

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
04 Apr 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

Following the resignation of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as the Speaker of the National Assembly, the DA calls for the urgent election of a new Speaker.

This resignation has created a vacancy in Parliament. Both the rules of the National Assembly and, crucially, the Constitution state clearly that once a vacancy has been created, an election of a new Speaker must take place.

Section 52(1) of the Constitution states: “At the first sitting after its election, or when necessary to fill a vacancy, the National Assembly must elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members.”

The DA will be writing to the Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, to initiate the necessary processes as the only official duly empowered by the rules of the Assembly to do so.

The 6th Parliament remains competent to perform its important functions until 21 May 2024. There is still outstanding business of the House which must be completed.

While there is a looming election, we cannot play fast and loose with provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of the National Assembly. These decisions and our actions are precedent-setting and must be followed to the letter and cannot be simply ignored for the sake of convenience.

Additionally, the DA will be probing the National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges committee and the National Council of Province’s Standing Committee about its investigations about its investigation into the former Speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula and Chairperson Masondo as it relates to the salary hike scandal of the Secretary to Parliament. To this day, the House is still none the wiser about how a 70% salary hike was approved by the two Executive Authorities. That matter still needs to be investigated and an outcome reached.

The DA has fully supported the work of the legal counsel appointed by Parliament to deal with this matter. The committee must, therefore, report on the progress and take the public into its confidence.

Mapisa-Nqakula remains within reach of the committee as a person of interest in this investigation and her resignation as an MP does not change that.

Crucially, if Mapisa-Nqakula is found to have contravened the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act she may be criminally charged – even as an “ordinary” member of the public. The Chairperson of the NCOP still remains in his position and his role in this salary scandal must also be probed and corrective measures must be put in place.

Parliament must earn the trust of the people of South Africa, and to do that we must ensure that a culture of accountability is entrenched. Therefore, we can leave none of these matters unattended. Indeed, no stone must be left unturned.

Parliament belongs to the people of South Africa and not to the politicians. It has to be a place where only those who are determined to serve with integrity come to prioritize the issues facing our people the most.