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By Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

Tony Yengeni guns for Chief Justice Zondo over state capture findings

Yengeni said Zondo's 'subjective' political findings 'fanned factional fires' in the governing party.

Convicted fraudster and ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni filed a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission against Chief Justice Raymond Zondo over some of the findings in the latest volume of the report on state capture.

In court papers seen by The Citizen, Yengeni – who filed the complaint in his personal capacity – argues that Zondo breached the judicial code of conduct when he made findings which had political implications.

Yengeni’s arguing that Zondo’s comments on the 2017 ANC elective conference where Ramaphosa was elected had essentially saved the country from further damage was venturing into the political arena.

“First and foremost, I am not aware which witness(es) presented the testimony on the basis of which this political finding is made.

Even if such testimony was presented, such a finding is unjustified if such testimony was never tested by way of cross-examination,” said Yengeni in the complaint.

“It is therefore inappropriate for a judicial officer to make such a subjective finding without real evidence.”

Yengeni says Zondo’s finding was subjective and displayed a “foray into intra-party politics” which, he believes, is a gross violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

He also said the finding “quite dangerously may have the effect of fanning factional fires within the governing party”, and influence delegates’ political voting patterns at the elective conference in December 2022.

“This conduct, I submit, is in breach of the following provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

  • A judge must not unless it is necessary for the discharge of judicial office, become involved in any political controversy or activity.
  • A judge must not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others”.

Yengeni goes on to say Zondo made the findings in his capacity as Commission Chairperson, not as a judge, and therefore has no legal binding.

“In other words, his/her role is not to render judgment which has legal and binding effect after hearing evidence. His/her role is rather to make recommendations to the president, which the president is free to accept or reject.”

Yengeni accused Zondo of advancing Ramaphosa’s interests in the ANC’s upcoming elective conference, where the president is up for a second term.

He also argued Zondo’s assertion that Ramaphosa’s election “saved the country from further damage,” was “puzzling” because South Africa’s prospects had not improved since Ramaphosa’s ascension to the top post.

“South Africans are worse off today than they were before the election of the current president of the African National Congress.

“The unemployment rate has increased markedly; South Africans are facing unprecedented incidents of power outages, causing massive (preventable) losses to businesses and avoidable inconvenience to ordinary citizens”.

“It is estimated that stage 4 load shedding costs the South African economy up to R1 billion a day.”

This is not the first time Yengeni expressed disapproval of Zondo.

In January, Yengeni slammed Zondo for responding to a controversial op-ed by Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, in which she launched a scathing attack on the judiciary.

Sisulu attacked the Constitution and black judges in particular describing them as “mentally colonised”.

It is important to note that Sisulu has also thrown her hat in the ring for the top job.

During an interview with Talk Radio 702, Yengeni called on the country’s judges to “grow up” and stop being “cry babies”.

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