Durban — With former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng apparently out of the picture, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party members were said to be pushing former president Jacob Zuma to forgo his presidential benefits and become the party’s presidential candidate.
The party had apparently banked on the former chief justice to be the face of the elections campaign, but the Judicial Service Commission clause that forbids judges to do remunerative work even after retirement appears to have hampered Justice Mogoeng’s chances of participating in politics.
According to legal expert advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala, Justice Mogoeng would lose his salary and benefits including the title of judge if he accepted a parliamentary seat. Zikalala said he was regarded as still employed even though he has retired since he was still getting a full salary equal to that of current Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
“Judges are regarded as still employed by the state so if Mogoeng wants to go to Parliament he must write a letter of resignation to the Minister of Justice. He will then lose his full salary and benefits, including being called a judge, so I guess that could be the reason why he had apparently turned down offers from parties to lead their parties,” said Zikalala.
It is understood that Justice Mogoeng was first approached by the All African Alliance Movement (AAAM) party to be its presidential candidate, then the MK Party. An active member of the MK Party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the former chief justice’s refusal to forgo his benefits as a judge prompted the AAAM to merge with MK which was announced by the party in a joint media briefing with former president Zuma on Friday.
At the briefing, AAAM secretary-general, Bishop Meshack Tebe, reportedly said their decision to endorse the MK Party was because they wanted the MK to get a two-thirds majority. AAAM then called on all its members to vote for MK in the coming general elections.
An MK member who spoke to the Daily News said Zuma now had no choice but to forgo his presidential benefits for the sake of people who had been yearning for his leadership. The lobbyist said she was not seeing any problem financially if Zuma were to accept going back to Parliament because, with more than 5 million MK Party members, they would be able to pay his salary as the former president and other benefits.
“Zuma would lose nothing by sacrificing his presidential perks. With a R10 membership contribution a month, we can sustain him financially given our fast-growing membership. In fact, that decision would make him a hero because it would mean he was prepared to sacrifice material benefits for the well-being of poor people, so we need him back at the Union Buildings. We do not have a credible leader like him since it appears that Mogoeng was not interested in sacrificing his benefits as a judge,” said the member.
Zikalala said should Zuma accept, he would immediately lose all presidential benefits since the former president earns salaries and benefits equal to the current presidents until death. Zuma can avoid losing benefits by declining to take a seat in Parliament should his party fail to win enough seats for him to return to the Union Buildings, he added.
Zikalala said Zuma may not lose the presidential benefits but has already lost politically as former ANC president since ANC members would not be able to shout ‘viva’ to him like to all the past party presidents like Oliver Tambo. Zuma’s campaigning for the MK Party was not in conflict with his status as the former head of state and his benefit would not be affected by his endorsing of the party, he added.
The push for Zuma was also prompted by the apparent revolt against Jabulani Khumalo who registered the party. Sources within the party said many were not happy with his leadership style and have started questioning his credentials.
Another member who also spoke on condition of anonymity said they don’t know of Khumalo in the uMkhonto weSizwe military wing and were not sure how Zuma trusted him to work within such an important project at the expense of Carl Niehaus and Nkosentsha Shezi, who had supported him continuously, especially Niehaus who was expelled by the ANC for supporting him.
The two known Zuma backers had since joined the EFF days before the launch of MK. MK party’s national convenor Lotta Mayana had not responded to a request for comment by the deadline.
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