Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has chastised the ANC leadership for telling its members to put the party before the country, an instruction directly in conflict with a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling.
Presiding over proceedings in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Thursday, Zondo heard evidence from former ANC MP Makhozi Khoza who detailed how she got fired by her party for voting in favour of a motion of no confidence against former president Jacob Zuma.
Responding to allegations that the ANC national working committee instructed members to vote along party lines in the 2017 motion, Zondo pointed out that this was against the related ConCourt ruling which outlined the duties of MPs in relation to the interests of the country, versus the interests of a political party.
Zondo expressed incredulity that the ANC leadership at the time could have been so bold as to directly defy this ruling to protect Zuma.
“This statement seems to say ‘don’t bother about that, you are a member of the ANC’,” Zondo said. He decried the suggestion that “members of the ANC who acted in accordance with the Constitution as interpreted by the Constitutional Court” were threatened with disciplinary mechanisms.
Asked if this was also how she interpreted the events, Khoza agreed, saying former ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe warned ANC members about a “judiocracy” (a country run through the courts) replacing democracy.
“My understanding was that he was simply saying ‘forget what the constitutional judgment has said, this is how things ought to have happened in accordance with party principles’.”
At the time, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) had applied to have the ConCourt force Speaker Baleka Mbethe to hold the vote on the no-confidence motion via a secret ballot, which the ANC was fiercely opposed to.
The commission is hearing evidence this week from current and former members of Parliament (MPs).