EFF leader Julius Malema’s criticism of the judiciary calls into question his role representing the National Assembly at the JSC judges’ interviews, says the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac). It is asking Parliament to act, notes a Daily Maverick report by Marianne Thamm. In terms of Section 178 of the Constitution, Malema is one of six MPs, three from opposition parties, who serve on the JSC representing Parliament – not a political party. Section 165 stipulates all organs of state, including Parliament, must ‘assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts’. For this reason, Casac has asked National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise what actions Parliament is taking over Malema’s ‘unwarranted’ and ‘unbecoming’ comments about judges.
The letter, dated 31 March, was sent well before the start of the week-long judges’ interviews by the JSC from Monday. ‘Do Mr Malema’s views represent those of the National Assembly? If not, what action will the National Assembly take to hold Mr Malema accountable for these statements, particularly as one of the National Assembly’s representatives to the JSC?’ Casac’s letter specifically refers to the most recent of Malema’s sharp slating of judges, and the State Capture Commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo during a 30 March televised media briefing. Malema said at that briefing that ‘the rule of law in SA is applied selectively’ and that the State Capture inquiry was not holding to account the ‘Rupert stooges’ and the Oppenheimers but was representative of ‘a certain faction of society’. Zondo was ‘not our god’, and his actions would be reviewed.
Casac wanted Modise’s undertaking that the National Assembly would act on this ahead of the JSC interviews. ‘These statements constitute an unwarranted attack on the integrity of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the judiciary as a whole. It is unbecoming of any member of the National Assembly, let alone one of its representatives on the JSC, to make such public comments that deliberately seek to undermine the independence and integrity of the judicial arm of the state,’ wrote Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo. ‘The utterances of Mr Malema clearly undermine these constitutional principles and, if left unchallenged, will undermine the judiciary in the eyes of the public.’ Modise responded on Monday as Malema took his seat at the JSC interviews.
Naidoo reportedly told the DM the council would respond to Modise’s letter, saying it was crucial that Parliament consider this matter of JSC representation at its appropriate structures. ‘A failure of Parliament to do so would constitute a dereliction of its responsibilities,’ said Naidoo.