/ 15 January 2008

ANC takes issue with deputy chief justice

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Tuesday called on Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to apologise for remarks he made about the party at his birthday celebrations.

This comes shortly after an ANC statement saying that Moseneke’s comments showed disdain for delegates at the ANC national conference (in December 2007) and that they highlighted the difficulty the judiciary ”appears to have in shedding its historical leanings and political orientation”.

An ANC spokesperson earlier told the South African Press Association (Sapa) the comments referred to were published in Sunday Times coverage of Moseneke’s 60th birthday celebrations.

In this report, Moseneke said: ”I chose this job very carefully. I have another 10 to 12 years on the bench and I want to use my energy to help create an equal society. It’s not what the ANC wants or what the delegates want; it is about what is good for our people.”

ANC spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso could not immediately elaborate on why the remarks were considered offensive, and the ANCYL’s spokesperson was not immediately available.

However, the ANCYL statement said: ”The ANC Youth League calls on the deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Dikgang Moseneke, to apologise.

”During the solemn occasion of his 60th birthday, the deputy chief justice discussed the ANC in the company of his friends, including the former head [of the National Prosecuting Authority] Bulelani Ngcuka, who led a crusade of suicide bombers against comrade Jacob Zuma.

”Some of the issues which are [the] subject of appeal before the Constitutional Court arise from the actions of Bulelani Ngcuka.

”This confirms our long-held view that comrade Jacob Zuma can and will never get a fair trial.”

The ANCYL wrote that: ”Judges must be above reproach and must refuse manipulation, even if it’s a perception, our judiciary faces [a] credibility cris[i]s and we need to restore the confidence of the public in the justice system.

”The comments that the deputy chief justice made have put the name of the judiciary into disrepute, and once more have raised questions about the independenc[e] and objectivity of the judiciary.”

Moseneke said he was aware of criticism levelled at him by the ANC and its youth league on Tuesday and would make his reaction known in a full statement soon.

”I have no comment at this stage. I will make a full statement in due course,” Moseneke told Sapa.

He would also comment on whether he felt his remarks were reported accurately, he said, in response to a question.

Moseneke is expected to be part of the bench that will consider the pending Constitutional Court application by Zuma, the ANC’s newly elected president, to have aspects of the search-and-seizure process against him challenged.

In December, Zuma was also charged on 16 counts, including racketeering, corruption and fraud, a move his supporters view as part of a conspiracy against him.

The earlier ANC statement also said the sudden withdrawal of charges against Scorpions Gauteng head Gerrie Nel raised a number of questions.

”The manner in which this case has been handled suggests that South Africa has a long way to go to achieve equality before the law.

”It strengthens suspicions that those who occupied positions in agencies of the former apartheid government can act with impunity while the offensive against cadres of the democratic movement is intensified. This brings into sharp relief the transformation of state agencies.”

Nel was arrested last Tuesday for allegedly defeating the ends of justice, and the charges against him were withdrawn on Monday.

Nel is leading the investigation against police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi. — Sapa