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Former Judge President Hlophe appointed MK Parliamentary Leader

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Johnathan Paoli

Former Western Cape Judge President John Mandlakayise Hlophe has been designated as Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) party leader in Parliament, amid the party’s drive to decentralise key roles and responsibilities.

The Hlophe announcement came out from an MK internal document where the party’s secretary-general Arthur Zwane addressed all party caucuses on Thursday.

In what many have speculated as plans for the imminent swearing in of the 58 MK members who boycotted the NA’s first sitting last week Friday, Zwane said there was a critical need to establish a robust framework of operations.

“Following recent communication from parliament regarding the allocation of funds consequent to our representation in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures, we are at a critical stage in the structuring of our party’s administrative and financial operations,” he said.

The SG said the measures were aimed to ensure stability, uniformity in operations, and the effective management of resources in the party’s attempt to solidify its provincial and regional structures and to prepare for the local government elections.

Zwane outlined the party’s intended centralisation of financial and other operations, including all funds allocated from the NA and provincial assemblies, the sourcing, approval and occupation of any resources or contracts, leasing of parliamentary constituency offices, and the sourcing and appointment of human resources, are intended to be centrally managed by the party’s Head Office.

He confirmed that in implementing these directives, the party will maintain a close consultation process with the office of the chief whip at both the national and provincial levels.

“Your insights and inputs will be invaluable as we navigate this critical phase of our party’s growth,” Zwane said.

The SG highlighted the temporary nature of the plans and said it would be periodically reviewed in consultation with all stakeholders involved.

He said the goal of the party was to decentralise these responsibilities back to the provincial structures once the leadership was confident in the stability and capacity of those structures to manage their functions independently.

Hlophe holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, England, and an LLD (honoris causa).

He also earned a B Juris from the University of Fort Hare and an LLB from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, as well as an LLM from the University of Cambridge, England.

MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said the party welcomed the appointment of the former judge president and said Hlophe’s distinguished career and unwavering Pan-African outlook has established him as a formidable force against systemic racism, particularly in the Western Cape.

“His reputation as an impeccable jurist and seasoned activist, who believes in an African-based judicial system, makes him an ideal leader for the MK party and South Africa at this crucial time,” Ndhlela said.

Ndhlela said despite enduring 15 years of harassment and facing unlawful removal by the DA and ANC coalition, Hlophe has remained steadfast in his fight for justice for the disenfranchised.

Hlophe was Judge President from 2000 until February this year, when parliament stripped him of his title and barred him from accessing his yearly retirement package.

In April 2021 the Judicial Conduct Tribunal found him guilty of gross misconduct, which was confirmed by the Judicial Service Commission, and recommended to Parliament for impeachment and removal from the bench in line with section 177 of the constitution.

In 2008 the judges of the Constitutional Court filed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Hlophe on the grounds that he had sought to influence the outcome of a matter relating to the deputy president Jacob Zuma’s corruption charges.

Coming from an academic background, Hlophe was appointed judge in 1995 at the age of 36, and led the Western Cape division as judge president five years later in 2000.

Despite allegations of corruption and irregular financial conduct, Hlophe’s impeachment has been seen by some as an attack on Black intelligentsia in the country, and one of the first harmful alliances between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

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