The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has called for the process to appoint the country’s next chief justice to be temporarily halted, saying the eight candidates nominated to replace Mogoeng Mogoeng as the head of the judiciary needs to be beyond reproach.
The party wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday saying in order for the process to inspire confidence, Ramaphosa’s bank statements for his ANC presidential campaign in 2017 must be unsealed and claims of corruption and the capture of judges must be investigated.
ATM said the shortlist of nominees released by the Presidency on Tuesday included judges with dubious judgments and those who had “plunged the judiciary into crisis”.
The shortlist of nominees included Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, advocate Alan Nelson and Dr Wallace Amos Mgoqi.
CR17 campaign ‘payments’
ATM spokesperson Sibusiso Mncwabe said “all judges must be made to commit that they have never received any monies” from Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign other than their regular salaries before the process to appoint the next chief justice continues.
“Judges with dubious judgments and those who have effectively put the judiciary into a crisis must be expressly excluded,” Mncwabe said.
ATM said was also concerned that Mogoeng’s remarks back in 2019 about rejecting a R600 million offer from someone to modernise courts were yet to be probed.
“It is now very murky whether other judges were also approached with such offers or not and if so, how they responded.
“The matter becomes even more complicated and suspicious at the back of the sealed CR17 bank statements coupled with allegations made at the state capture commission by a senior secret service agency [State Security Agency] official that some judges were on irregular payroll.
“Some of the candidates are still actively presiding over matters where the head of state, who must make the appointment, is implicated in wrongdoing. This is untenable.”
ATM backs Hlophe and Mkhwebane
Despite Hlophe and Mkhwebane facing pending impeachment proceedings for alleged misconduct, ATM said it believed the two candidates were more than qualified to be South Africa’s next chief justice.
The party said Mkhwebane had proven to citizens that she could hold the executive to account without fear and favour.
“Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane as an example despite various attacks on her by her detractors. She, however, continued to stand her ground firmly without fear or favour and has been holding members of the executive accountable, including the head of state.
“She has shown that she can stand for justice even if it personally costs her financially including threats on her own life.”
Hlophe deserved to be appointed chief justice because he was not “part of the embedded narrative in the judiciary”, ATM said.
“Justice [sic] Hlophe is another candidate who has been very consistent in bringing in African perspectives to counterbalance the Roman-Dutch Law which has junionsed [sic] our customary law. He has also been under severe attacks for not being part of the embedded narrative in the judiciary.”
South Africans have until 15 October to submit in writing any objections they may have regarding the nominees for the chief justice position. A shortlist of three to five names will then be submitted to Ramaphosa for consideration by 29 October.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe