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Johannesburg – Lawyers representing President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC have accused senior counsel advocate Dali Mpofu and suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule of abusing the courts in a bid to launch a “scurrilous” attack on judges and the president.
Representing Magashule in his suspension case on Wednesday, Mpofu accused three Johannesburg High Court judges of judicial bias.
Magashule’s matter returned to Gauteng High Court Division in Johannesburg as he sought leave to appeal its previous judgement.
The High Court previously ruled that the ANC was within its right to suspend Magashule after he failed to comply with its step-aside rule.
Mpofu on Wednesday based his argument on three broad areas, including the legal issues, merits of the case and judicial bias.
While arguing the judicial bias point, Mpofu said the lower court pre-judged the matter and prejudiced his client and that he believed a higher court would come to a different conclusion.
But Judge Jody Kollapen asked Mpofu to clarify his point.
“Are you saying that this case was determined on the basis of a pre-judgment?” asked Kollapen.
“Yes, we are saying that the matter was prejudged and I am not saying in the overall outcome in the case, I am talking about the specific issue of the authority of Miss Duarte. Remember that is a pivotal issue in this case which would determine whether the suspension was lawful or unlawful. So, prejudging that issue is just as good as prejudging the whole case, in a particular sense,” he said.
However, advocate Wim Trengove – acting for President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling party – argued against Magashule’s submission and called for the matter to be dismissed with costs.
“The purpose of this case is to abuse the courts and use it as a springboard to launch a scurrilous and scandalous attack on the bench with no justification at all. The introduction of a supplementary heads of argument is merely to abuse the court’s platform to insult the president,” Trengove said.
Trengove stuck to the argument that there was nothing unconstitutional about Magashule’s suspension.
He added that the step aside rule was “an important mechanism designed so that people suspected of corruption did not occupy positions of power”.
Magashule was suspended by the party in May.
A letter signed by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte at the time indicated that his suspension by the ruling party would remain until the outcome of his legal proceedings.
His suspension from his position came after the ANC gave leaders implicated in corruption or facing charges a deadline to step aside, which he did not adhere to.
Mpofu argued that the step aside rule was implemented “factionally”.
He pointed out that Ramaphosa’s recent cabinet reshuffle and appointments of certain ministers had also included ANC members facing serious corruption charges.
He further argued that the reshuffle indicated the “selective and factional” application of the step-aside rule as some ANC members who are facing serious corruption allegations were promoted and retained.
In his application, Magashule cited newly appointed finance minister Enoch Gondongwana, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Zizi Kodwa and Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and claimed that they too face serious allegations of corruption but had been promoted or retained their ministerial positions.
In his court papers, Magashule said the court had mistakenly bought into the lie that his suspension was motivated by the need to introduce an alleged “turning point” in the fight against corruption, and not the reality that the rule was factionally implemented.
Judges Kollapen, Sharise Weiner and Edwin Molahlehi stood the matter down and assured the parties they would deal with the matter urgently and that judgment would be handed down soon.