PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY: THE ROBBEN ISLAND EX POLITICAL PRISONERS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM.
03 FEBRUARY 2022.
We, as a collective of Ex Political Prisoners, are disturbed to note that Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was one of the first to jump into the boxing ring in response to Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulus’s long overdue article, Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice? After some reflection we are prompted to ask where Zondo fits into the scheme of things regarding the CR presidential campaign? Why would the Acting-Chief Justice risk engaging himself in a political fray when this can easily be construed as his involvement in a potential ‘conflict of interest’ on the eve of interviews and nominations for the position of the Chief Justice?
We further ask if Zondo has not crossed the line by involving himself in a matter of a strictly political nature and outside of the legal parameters that bind members of the judiciary from involvement in a conflict of interest, by asking or lobbying the ANC leadership and, by extension, the State President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to take actionagainst Minister Sisulu? It is our view that, by playing politics and denying the reality of Sisulu’s reflections, Zondo has come off as appearing disingenuous and very mischievous with the truth about the South African political history and dire social conditions for the majority.
Against allegations that the Zondo Commission is politically biased in favour of protecting the CR camp and has been lenient in its investigations of White corporate crimes, we are disturbed that the, as yet, unsubstantiated attack on Sisulu, appears to be a grand display of political posturing and colonial amnesia. We have to wonder if there is a possibility of Zondo being opportunistic in his ambitions for the position of the Chief Justice.
Again we question whether the perceived successes of the State Capture Commission dulled his better judgment, thus Zondo, unfortunately, has demonstrated poor foresight by involving himself in conduct that, one can argue, is unbecoming for a person in his position. We can further argue, within reason, that by being selective with the historical facts in his criticism of Sisulu, the Acting-Chief Justice acted irresponsibly as an apartheid apologist and/or denialist.
In his overzealousness to attack Sisulu, the judge uses selective outrage as justification for calling for action to be taken against her. However, the judge tactically says absolutely nothing on the validity of Sisulu’s views on how the Constitution, as a fundamental key framework governing the application of the laws of our country, its government administration and responsibilities, nor how the laws must serve all citizens equally. The judiciary is one of the critical state organs to ensure that these laws are applied and adhered to at all times.
As liberation struggle war veterans and former Robben Island political prisoners we have no difficulty in comprehending the official need for and relevance of Sisulu’s introspection, given that she is also the chairperson of the ANC Social Transformation subcommittee.
In his focused attack on Sisulu, Zondo has, seemingly, during a moment of positional overreach, allowed himself to stoop to almost the same low levels of the people he has harshly criticised for wrongdoing during his own State Capture Commission of Inquiry.
Given this turn of events we can then easily argue that, while helping the campaign of the Ramaphosa camp, the Acting-Chief Justice’s timing of the release of the State Capture Report to Ramaphosa seems to have been pointedly planned to help boost Zondo’s own chances for nomination to the position of the Chief Justice. This in turn, casts a blanket of doubt on the authenticity of the final findings of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.
Another factor that is certain to unfairly improve the judge’s bidding for the position, considering the overwhelming view that his leniency in dealing with the economic crimes committed by the White industry giants, has made him their blue-eyed boy, which no doubt boosts his nomination chances with their endorsements.
Furthermore, we ask whether Zondo’s public attack on Sisulu, in which he called a press conference which clearly swayed public opinion, could be construed as a calculated move in order to assist CR’s presidential campaign by tarnishing Sisulu’s campaign for presidency.
It is also of interest to us that Zondo’s main bone of contention was that Sisulu referred to some Black members of the judiciary as being mentally colonized. In our view it is a fact that all Black subjects remain colonised in neocolonial Settler countries and it is incumbent on us, against all odds, to decolonize our thinking. The Fees Must Fall movement signaled loudly that this is a popular sentiment. Perhaps Zondo missed that. From our perspective there can be no dispute around Sisulu’s statement and thus Zondo’s outrage is mute in this regard.
It is against this accumulation of grave concerns that we as a collective of Robben Island ex-political prisoners and liberation struggle veterans, have on ethical grounds no choice but to respectfully call upon the Acting-Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo to please withdraw his bid for the position of the Chief Justice.
Sipho Singiswa – Ex Robben Island Political Prisoner
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