South African Parliament Speaker Resigns Amid Corruption Charges
Africa Crime & Courts

South African Parliament Speaker Resigns Amid Corruption Charges

JOHANNESBURG —The former speaker of South Africa’s parliament was arrested Thursday and charged with multiple counts of corruption, one day after she resigned her position.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s arrest is yet another blow to the reputation of the governing African National Congress party, or ANC, as it gears up for what is predicted to be South Africa’s most contentious election since the end of apartheid.

Mapisa-Nqakula, a 67-year-old veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, resigned as speaker of the house Wednesday night and turned herself in at a police station on Thursday.

She was charged in court with 12 counts of corruption and one of money laundering, stemming from her time as defense minister. She is accused of having taken bribes worth some $120,000 from a former military contractor to secure a contract.

Mapisa-Nqakula was released on bail after appearing in court, where she denied any wrongdoing but said she had stepped down to protect her party.

In a statement, ANC spokeswoman Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri thanked her for stepping aside. “We thank all of those that have participated in the process of scrutiny, and we continue to say that the rule of law comes first and foremost,” she said.

The scandal couldn’t come at a worse time for the ANC.

The party, which has controlled the presidency and parliament for 30 years, is expected to get less than 50% of the vote for the first time in elections on May 29.

Multiple polls show the once-storied party of Nelson Mandela has lost popularity due to, among other things, numerous corruption scandals.-VOA

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