/ 21 June 2024

Hlophe to become MK party’s parliamentary leader

John Hlophe was impeached for trying to sway two apex court justices to decide applications linked to the arms deal in Jacob Zuma’s favour. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Four months after he was impeached, former judge John Hlophe has agreed to become the parliamentary leader of Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

This was confirmed by MP party spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela on Friday.

Hlophe was not on the party’s list of candidates for the May elections, where it won 14.58% of votes.

It means that one of its 58 members elected to the National Assembly will have to give up a seat to make space for him. 

None of them have been sworn in yet because the party boycotted the first sitting of the chamber last Friday in a failed attempt to rob it of legal standing to re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa for another term.

Ndhlela said the party’s MPs would take the oath next week, “possibly Tuesday”.

Hlophe was impeached in February, with the National Assembly voting by 305 to 27 to remove him from the bench.

This came close to three years after the Judicial Service Commission affirmed a finding by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal that he had committed gross misconduct by raising a pending ruling relating to Zuma’s arms deal corruption case with two constitutional court justices. 

The tribunal found that Hlophe seemed to have been on a politically motivated “mission” to sway justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde when he tried to raise the matter with them in separate meetings in the spring of 2008, a year before Zuma became president.

He maintained that he had done nothing wrong, and repeatedly delayed the misconduct inquiry by way of legal challenges, and unsuccessfully took the findings on legal review.

His impeachment came just hours after the Western Cape high court dismissed a last-ditch application to delay the vote.

Hlophe and justice Nkola Motata were the first judges to be impeached in post-apartheid South Africa.