Impeached judge John Hlophe bounces back as MK chief whip

Former Western Cape judge president John Mandlakayise Hlophe has been appointed the parliamentary chief whip of a political newcomer, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

Although the former president Jacob Zuma-led ANC splinter grouping did not immediately confirm whether Hlophe had been assigned to the key role in the national assembly, a party internal document reveals the appointment has been made.

Centralisation of funds and administration

According to the correspondence dated June 20, 2024, seen by Sunday World and addressed to all party provincial caucuses and Hlophe, among others, it calls for the centralisation of key roles and responsibilities in the party.

“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,” reads the communique in part.

The party, with 58 national assembly seats, further said in the letter that it was in the critical stage of its development and that it needed to formulate a robust framework for operations.

“This measure aims to ensure stability, uniformity in operations, and effective management of resources as we work towards solidifying the foundation of our provincial and regional structures.

“But also to lay the foundations for an all-out local government elections,” said the letter authored by party secretary Arthur Zwane.

He said all funds allocated from both the national assembly and provincial assemblies will be managed centrally by the national office through the office of the treasurer general.

“This consolidation is essential for maintaining financial integrity and accountability as we lay down the operational frameworks across various levels of our party.”

The head office will also be responsible for sourcing and appointing human resources.

Pioneering legal mind

Hlophe was one of the most respected judges for driving a transformational agenda in the country’s legal framework. He was unceremoniously booted out from the bench.

In February 2024, he became the first judge to be impeached by parliament since the dawn of democracy. His title was also stripped. He was also barred from accessing his lucrative retirement package. Hlophe was also the first black judge to serve in the bar way back in 1995.

Judges file a complaint

His woes started in 2008, when two judges of the Constitutional Court filed a complaint of judicial misconduct against him.

The judges accused Hlophe of having unduly sought to influence a court matter relating to corruption charges against Zuma. He was, at the time, the deputy president to the head of state, Thabo Mbeki.

“Sesithemble kinina,” an IsiZulu phrase loosely translated as you’re our last hope, was used to nail Hlophe. It is believed that Hlophe uttered the words in an attempt to influence Judges Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jaftha. This was in an attempt for the judges to favour Zuma in their ruling.

In 2021, the Judicial Conduct Tribunal found Hlophe guilty of misconduct. The decision was confirmed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The JSC subsequently recommended impeachment using Section 17 of the country’s constitution.

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