ACDP condemns 'attack on Chief Justice Mogoeng's constitutional rights'
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Johannesburg - The African Christian Democratic Party has rejected the ANC's criticism of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for remarks he made about Israel as baseless and an attack on his constitutional rights.
"The ACDP rejects the ANC's criticism of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng following the comments he made about Israel in his personal capacity as a citizen. We consider this criticism as baseless and an attack on his constitutional rights of freedom of religion and expression," ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said in a statement on Saturday.
Mogoeng's wide-ranging interview with the Jerusalem Post, which also included South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, focused on global racial tensions and the need for love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The ANC had chosen to ignore these important parts of the interview and focus only on Mogoeng's comments on Israel, Meshoe said.
Many millions of South Africans, including ANC supporters, had very strong religious and spiritual connections with the Holy Land of Israel and would support the sentiments expressed by Mogoeng. He also made it very clear that he was not undermining the government's policy on Israel, but had the right to express himself "as a citizen" and as a Christian.
"This, the ANC recognises, but then goes on to unjustly criticise him for those very personal beliefs. It is also undeniable that South Africa, with its unique history and experience in negotiating a peaceful solution, could play an important role in facilitating the peace process in the Middle East," he said.
The ACDP thus fully agreed with Mogoeng's sentiment that "the people of South Africa are an asset we must use around the world to bring peace when there is no peace and to mediate effectively based on rich experience".
"Sadly, the unbalanced approach of the ANC in condemning Israel whenever possible and its resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel while turning a blind eye to far more serious human rights violations in many other countries, including China, Iraq, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Myanmar, has resulted in it losing any credibility as an honest mediator in international affairs," Meshoe said.
The ANC's claims that Mogoeng's comments "will make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future" were ludicrous. Mogoeng had a proven track record of upholding the Constitution and human rights over the years. In addition, the judiciary, under his leadership, had been fiercely independent and was the strongest bulwark against the ANC's complete capture of the state during the former president Jacob Zuma years.
"The ANC asserts that South Africa 'is a secular state and officials of the state, which include our esteemed judiciary, are bound by the Constitution to respect this'. This view shows that the ANC has no understanding of the relationship between the state and religion as clearly articulated by the constitution and the courts," Meshoe said.
The ACDP rejected calls for Mogoeng to resign, as well as the ANC's call on the Speaker of Parliament to have "high level talks" with Mogoeng regarding his views. "We see this as a very dangerous attempt at intimidating Mogoeng Mogoeng from expressing deeply held personal religious views, which could also be seen as an indirect threat to the independence of the judiciary," Meshoe said.
The ACDP called on the millions of South Africans to unite behind Mogoeng and reject the renewed pressure by the ANC and EFF to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel. "Christians and Jewish people will not be silent while our deeply held religious beliefs and links with the Holy Land of Israel are undermined by those with a radical anti-Israel agenda bordering on anti-Semitism," Meshoe said.