Mapisa-Nqakula bringing up condition of prisons is ironic: Naidoo

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The integrity of Parliament is critical for the strength of the country’s democracy. And it should always be placed in higher regard than any single individual, no matter who they are. That’s according to the Executive Director of the Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, Lawson Naidoo. He says resigning was the correct course of action for former Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to take but it should have come much sooner.

Naidoo says in recent years, Parliament has been embattled, with it being accused of neglecting its primary constitutional responsibilities of holding the executive to account as well as passing weak legislation.

For this reason, Naidoo says Mapisa-Nqakula’s plea for bail, based on the poor conditions in the South African Correctional Services system, is ironic.

“She served as Correctional Services Minister at some point, she was in cabinet for many years, and now these issues about the state of our prisons would have been discussed and therefore it’s incredibly self-serving for her to now raise the issue about the state of prisons when many thousands of prisoners are suffering through the circumstances that exist there,” says Naidoo.

In her resignation letter, Mapisa-Nqakula referred to upholding the integrity of Parliament.

“If that was her primary concern, the issue of resignation should have arisen much earlier. Parliament has been in the middle of this controversy for a few weeks now, this should have come much sooner,” Naidoo adds.

Naidoo says her decision was motivated by the looming corruption charges and possible arrest. Parliament has given its assurance that mechanisms are in place, to ensure minimal disruptions to the work of the institution during this time.

Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli will continue to act as Speaker.

“We agree with the Speaker that the institution is insulated and protected from the personal hardships that confront her,” says Moloto Mothapo, spokesperson to Parliament.

The resignation was widely welcomed. And even though Mapisa-Nqakula says her resignation is not an indication of guilt, Naidoo says this move is the expression of accountability that South Africans need to see.

He says the rule of law has been vindicated and that law enforcement agencies are doing their jobs.

Naidoo says hopefully, more arrests will follow and that other senior officials accused of corruption will also have their day in court.