Hlophe’s experience a shoe fit for JSC, says MK Party

Parliament voted in favour of former judge John Hlophe to serve on the Judicial Services Commission.

Parliament voted in favour of former judge John Hlophe to serve on the Judicial Services Commission.

Published Jul 10, 2024


Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party leader in Parliament Dr John Hlophe will be among MPs serving as a representative of Parliament in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) despite objections by the DA, Freedom Front Plus and ACDP.

Hlophe’s nomination was met with criticism by some NGOs, who then wrote to Speaker Thoko Didiza urging Parliament not to designate him as a member of the JSC.

Hlophe, who was found guilty of gross misconduct by the JSC and subsequently impeached by Parliament on its recommendation, was among the four candidates nominated and later voted for by the national legislature on Tuesday.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said whoever was eligible to be an MP could be delegated to whatever responsibility by Parliament.

“Let’s respect that a certain number of people in South Africa voted for the MK Party and designated Dr Hlophe to come in as an MP. Let’s respect that. It is a matter of principle which we always protected in the chief whips forum that whoever is designated by a political party must be respected,” Shivambu said.

MK Party chief whip Sihle Ngubane said the Constitution does not contain a qualification requirement for members of the JSC.

“Since members who qualify to be appointed to the JSC are already MPs and therefore they are bound by their oath of Constitution, which in its wisdom, does not regulate qualification of members to sit on JSC,” Ngubane said.

He also said the legal qualification and judicial experience of Hlophe was a shoe fit for the JSC.

“The MK has done huge justice to the House to bring a Cambridge graduate with a PhD in law to come to the House and assist to make laws of this country,” Ngubane added.

UDM, Al Jama-ah, African Transformation Movement (ATM) and United

Africans Transformation (UAT) threw their weight behind Hlophe, while other small parties such as Bosa and ActionSA called for election of candidates who were fit for purpose.

ANC chief whip Mdumiseni Ntuli said the chief whips forum agreed that parties be permitted to second their own candidates and that they respected that the DA had raised its concerns regarding Hlophe.

“Our own view as the ANC is that ...we have agreed that in instances where the rules of Parliament or the Constitution have not clearly defined a particular position, we are to have to live on the basis of established rules and practices of Parliament,” Ntuli said.

He said the House should not take a position unless it has clarified its rules where there was lacuna or gap in the rules and the Constitution.

“When we take a decision it does not become a political position but is supported by the Constitution or rules of the National Assembly. That is the point we want to raise as the ANC,” Ntuli added.

The DA was the first to raise an objection, with its chief whip George Michalakis saying Hlophe lost the status as a judge after being found guilty of gross misconduct by the JSC.

“We are strongly of the view that it is neither reasonable nor rational to elect Dr Hlophe as a representative of the National Assembly on the JSC,” he said.

Michalakis also said judges appearing before the JSC may object to and apply for his recusal on the basis that the finding of gross misconduct rendered him unfit to serve on a body that determines the fitness and propriety of others.

The JSC, which consists of 23 members drawn from various structures of government and the legal community, can only recommend a candidate to the president, who ultimately appoints a judge. Reacting to Parliament’s decision on Hlophe, Freedom Under Law said: “It is also hard to reconcile the contradictory position of political parties which voted for Dr Hlophe to be removed from judicial office but now voted in favour of his appointment to the JSC.”

Cape Times