Mo­go­eng mis­judged

Sunday Tribune - - OPINION - Den­nis Pather

ISUPPOSE you can call Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng the most mis­judged judge in the coun­try’s le­gal his­tory.

Let’s be hon­est and ad­mit many of us were more than mildly scep­ti­cal, even sus­pi­cious, when he was ap­pointed chief jus­tice some six years ago.

When Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma made the an­nounce­ment, many of us squirmed in our seats and spec­u­lated what the “real” mo­tives be­hind Mo­go­eng’s me­te­oric rise might be. As one of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s most junior mem­bers, he was re­garded as a rel­a­tive new­comer to the bench, and a re­puted con­ser­va­tive to boot.

Many were also shocked he got the job ahead of the more favoured can­di­date, Dik­gang Moseneke.

Was Mo­go­eng just an­other of Zuma’s hand-picked ap­pointees to smooth the way for him to run the ju­di­cial arm of govern­ment by re­mote con­trol? Af­ter all, loyal cadre de­ploy­ment has been Zuma’s favoured modus operandi. Just look at his track record in that re­spect.

To es­cape be­ing charged with more than 700 counts of fraud and cor­rup­tion, he has al­ways en­sured his ap­pointees as na­tional di­rec­tor of pub­lic prose­cu­tions are peo­ple who aren’t go­ing to rock the boat.

Take the present in­cum­bent, Shaun Abra­hams. If he was se­ri­ous about his job, he’d be putting be­hind bars all those scoundrels loot­ing the pub­lic purse.

But Abra­hams, I sup­pose, isn’t keen to bite the hand that ap­pointed him. Nor are the Hawks in any great rush to make ar­rests af­ter the so-called Gupta e-mails ex­posed the grow­ing web of theft, fraud and cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing Zuma, his bo­som bud­dies in Sax­on­wold and the pres­i­dent’s hand-picked ap­pointees run­ning state-owned en­ter­prises.

And with sea­soned cor­rup­tion fight­ers like Pravin Gord­han and Mce­bisi Jonas out of the pic­ture, Zuma is prob­a­bly smil­ing from ear to ear, know­ing his faith­ful com­rades, Malusi Gi­gaba and Tom Moy­ane, are in charge of the purse strings. Which brings me back to the highly mis­judged judge, Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng.

Today, we look back and ad­mit how wrong and pre­sump­tu­ous we were. He has by sheer ex­am­ple showed he is a man deeply and fiercely com­mit­ted to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion. He put to the sword any sus­pi­cion he was al­lied to the Zuma ad­min­is­tra­tion when he forthrightly ruled the pres­i­dent had vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tion by fail­ing to act on the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­port on the Nkandla is­sue.

In recog­ni­tion of his cru­cial role in pro­tect­ing ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence, he was hon­oured with the Biko Fanon Award for psy­cho­log­i­cal lib­er­a­tion at the Panafrican Psy­chol­ogy Congress in Dur­ban this week. A fit­ting hon­our in a year in which the coun­try marks the 40th an­niver­sary of the death of Black Con­scious­ness leader Steve Biko.

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