South African Speaker of Parliament Mapisa-Nqakula Resigns

(Bloomberg) -- South African Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula quit, a day after losing a court bid to block her arrest over allegations of corruption.

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Mapisa-Nqakula’s resignation marks a rare instance of a South African public official stepping down after facing accusations of graft. Her decision comes less than two months before the country holds elections in which the ruling African National Congress faces a loss of support over voter dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of issues including rampant state corruption.

“I have made this conscious decision in order to dedicate my time and focus to deal with the recently announced investigation against me by our country’s law enforcement agencies,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a South African court rejected an urgent application brought by Mapisa-Nqakula to compel the National Prosecuting Authority to suspend plans to arrest her and share evidence related to the case. She now faces arrest.

Read More: South African Speaker of Parliament Loses Bid to Stop Arrest

Earlier this month, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper reported that Mapisa-Nqakula solicited 2.3 million rand ($123,000) in bribes from a contractor while she was defense minister, citing the contractor. She has denied wrong-doing.

“My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding the allegations being leveled against me,” she said on Wednesday. “I remain a dedicated member of the ANC.”

Mapisa-Nqakula had faced the prospect of a motion of no confidence brought by opposition parties in parliament.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed her announcement.

“While we are unable to move the motion of no confidence against her any more, or pursue the case against her in the ethics committee, we do believe that law-enforcement agencies must now move with speed to conclude the matter,” it said in a statement.

--With assistance from Paul Vecchiatto.

(Updates with comment by opposition from penultimate paragraph)

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