/ 4 September 2008

Pityana speaks out against judge-bashing

University of South Africa (Unisa) vice-chancellor Barney Pityana has condemned the recent flood of criticism of the judiciary and top academics by African National Congress (ANC) alliance leaders, the Times reported on Thursday.

He also cautioned against the use of the language of violence, saying this was undermining ”that which we purport to advance”.

Speaking at the University of Johannesburg on Wednesday night, Pityana said: ”No one who has served this country as much as the men who today serve on the bench values being labelled counter-revolutionaries.

”Neither do vice-chancellors and scholars like Njabulo Ndebele and [former South African Communist Party heavyweight] Raymond Suttner, whose lives were engrossed in all elements of the struggle for our liberation, appreciate being called names.”

Pityana, who was participating in a debate on the future of higher education, shared the stage with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, whose recent comments that Constitutional Court judges were ”counter-revolutionaries” caused a furious public debate.
Mantashe did not respond to Pityana’s criticisms, saying: ”I’m not going to comment on the statements about counter-revolutionaries.”

In his address, Pityana said for the first time since 1994 there were concerns about threats to the social contract that binds the nation.

Although he did not mention any alliance leaders by name in his speech, during question time Pityana rebuked the South African Communist Party, the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League for their recent criticism of the judiciary. — Sapa