Mantashe defends criticism of judiciary

African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday defended his criticism of the way the Constitutional Court had handled its complaint against Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

Addressing a meeting of asset managers, he referred to media reports of his statement in this regard as ”the famous ‘counter-revolutionary’ judiciary misquotation”.

Mantashe said the issue was not what had been said. Rather, it was about ”commenting on this issue and highlighting the not-so-obvious about our respected judges”.

It was necessary to reaffirm the point he was making, he said.

”It cannot be acceptable for the honourable judges who are presiding over the cases of [ANC president] Jacob Zuma; even if it was not Jacob Zuma [but someone else], it will never be acceptable to actually create a hullabaloo in dealing with a supposedly delinquent judge, and drag the issue of cases that you are expected to pronounce on into a public debate. I’m insisting on that.

”I’m saying, a judge found to maybe [have] behaved in a delinquent way, the judges must drag that man to the right carpet in the internal processes and deal with that issue without creating a hullabaloo about Jacob Zuma, and so forth, and so forth.

”Because, when the time arrives in the future, and they make a pronouncement on the cases that they are presiding over, that flaw will look larger than the actual pronouncement on the cases,” Mantashe said.

In his speech at the ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference a few weeks ago, Mantashe was reported to have described the judges as counter-revolutionary.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian published on July 4, Mantashe said his remarks stemmed from concerns over what appeared to be a concerted effort by ”counter-revolutionary forces”, including the Constitutional Court and opposition parties.

”He [Zuma] is the president of the ANC,” he said. ”You hit the head, you kill the snake. When there is that attack on him, it is a concerted attack on the head of the ANC. Everybody says it is an innocent attack on him. We will know that it is an attack on the ANC.”

M&G editor Ferial Haffajee said on Friday the paper is in possession of a tape where Mantashe is heard saying the judges were ”counter-revolutionary”.

She said Mantashe, who usually calls her when he not happy with a story in the paper, had not phoned her to complain about the story. ”He has not complained nor requested an apology. My colleague has a tape recording of the interview,” she said.

Meanwhile, ANC was not going to be rushed into sacking Ebrahim Rasool and Nosimo Balindlela, the premiers of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces, according to Mantashe.

”We are in the middle of a process, which we are taking step by step,” he told the meeting of asset managers of Nehawu Securities, the black-owned stockbroking firm owned by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, in Cape Town on Wednesday.

”We are going to resist succumbing to pressure to miss some of those steps.”

Mantashe explained that the party was preparing a package of measures aimed at sorting out problems in the troubled provinces. Among other things the party still needed to decide how and when Rasool, the premier of the Western Cape, will be redeployed.

”It could be weeks,” he said. ”Though I don’t think it will be 52 weeks.”

Mantashe also made it clear that the provincial governments of the two provinces were not the only ones in trouble with the national party bosses.

He said three other provinces were giving cause for concern — the Northern Cape, North West and the Free State — although they were not intending to axe the three premiers.

He said a team of national executive members would be visiting the three shortly, starting with the North West on Friday and Monday.

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