JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's parliament on Thursday elected a recently fired ex-defence minister as speaker, a senior position, angering opposition parties who cast doubt on her competence and probity.
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was removed as defence minister this month during a cabinet reshuffle that followed a spree of deadly unrest and looting in parts of the country.
She had come under fire for perceived incompetence in responding to the violence, and for contradicting President Cyril Ramaphosa's claim that the events had been a pre-planned "insurrection".
The ex-minister was replaced by former national assembly speaker Thandi Modise, but later nominated by Ramaphosa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party as its preferred candidate take over from Modise.
MPs chose Mapisa-Nqakula as the new speaker on Thursday, with 199 out of 298 votes.
Opponents heckled her as she began a victory speech and booed when she thanked Ramaphosa's graft-accused predecessor Jacob Zuma among others, a video stream of the plenary session in Cape Town showed.
Mapisa-Nqakula's election "has disarmed parliament" from ensuring "accountability and transparency", the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said in a statement.
"It is an indictment on the ANC and highlights their determination to render parliament... toothless," it added.
The left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters boycotted the election, accusing Ramaphosa in a statement of "rubber stamping factional politics" and violating the "separation of powers".
Critics have also noted that Mapisa-Nqakula is under parliamentary investigation for allegedly taking five million rand ($330,000) in bribes from a defence contractor, and spending seven million rand ($462,000) on private jet holidays in New York and Paris between 2017 and 2019.
"To see her being proposed to a position that is almost tantamount to a promotion... is seen as a reshuffle tainted by failure," political analyst Ralph Mathekga, author of a book on Ramaphosa, told AFP.