Pretoria - Advocates for Transformation’s (AFT) treasurer Adv Tebogo Manye has resigned from the organisation amid a fallout within the lobby group’s leadership over its position on Dali Mpofu.
According to Manye’s resignation letter seen by the Pretoria News yesterday, he dumped the organisation on Monday. He accused it of “failing its members” and of having been “infiltrated by hardcore conservatives”.
This came after the AFT wrote to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) at the weekend informing the body it was withdrawing Mpofu as its representative. The letter, which shocked Manye and other AFT members, was penned after Mpofu grilled Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo during the interviews last month.
In a letter to the JSC, which was leaked to the media, AFT chairperson Myron Dewrance said his organisation had decided to replace Mpofu as its representative.
Dawrance said: “At the 2017 AFT Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Bloemfontein, AFT took a resolution that it’s candidate, serving on the JSC would only be able to serve a term of two years at a time and maximum of two terms subjected to the decision of an AGM.”
Mpofu, a representative of the AFT at the 23-member JSC, caused a stir when he quizzed Mlambo about unsubstantiated sexual harrassment allegations levelled against him by an unnamed complainant. That part of the interview was later expunged from the JSC records.
Mpofu’s line of questioning had received mixed reactions from the legal fraternity, with members of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa criticising him while a group of more than 20 prominent black lawyers defended him.
The JSC later recommended Supreme Court of Appeal President Justice Maya, but President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Zondo.
In his resignation letter, addressed to Dawrance, Manye also accused the AFT of not protecting one of its own (Mpofu) in the face of an onslaught.
“Chairperson, you appealed to me for the renewal of the organisation. I'm afraid I cannot see my way through with the nucleus that has become the core of the AFT. AFT has been infiltrated and we're losing the organisation. There can never be anything good with the view that says forget about your cdes from Pretoria, Cape Town and Mpofu just to appease the hardcore conservatives in the profession,” Manye wrote.
He accused the organisation of failing to defend Mpofu in the face of the onslaught from some elements in the legal fraternity. Instead, Manye said, AFT shared the sentiments expressed by Mpofu’s critics.
“I cannot reconcile myself with the direction that AFT is embarking on. I cannot be a stumbling block to that agenda. As such accept my resignation as Treasurer General.”
Speaking to Pretoria News yesterday, Manye defended his resignation saying that Mpofu could have been protected by the organisation.
He said: “Mpofu SC was never called before the AFT for comment or consultation on what transpired during the JSC interviews.
Surely AFT bears some responsibility and some level of criticism for its deployees’ conduct to those extra entities where AFT is a partner. It’s unthinkable that AFT can simply put a distance between itself and Mpofu without having engaged him on the issue. To the extent that his replacement at the JSC was communicated to him via media reports contrary to AFT EXCO resolution to engage him before a final decision is made.”
Manye insisted that all AFT members “deserved better” and “Mpofu is no exception.”
“AFT is failing its members who for years have been at the receiving end of differentiation in the Cape Bar. AFT is about to cast aside its members from [the] newly formed Tshwane Society of Advocates just to remain relevant in the General Council Bar. There’s a long list of burning issues that AFT has been failing to address to the detriment of its members,” he added.
The AFT failed to respond to a request for comment on Manye’s resignation. Mpofu could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.