IEC hopeful Shozi grilled over criticism of Janusz Walus parole

26 June 2018 - 16:47 By Ernest Mabuza
File photo of Mfanozelwe Shozi.
File photo of Mfanozelwe Shozi.
Image: Sowetan/ Sibusiso Msibi

An aspirant Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) commissioner‚ Mfanozelwe Shozi‚ found himself having to explain an article he wrote in 2016 criticising the judiciary.

The article was published in the New Age newspaper in May 2016 titled “Parole for Janusz Walus cannot be justified”.

In that article‚ Shozi‚ who was chairman of the Commission for Gender Equality at the time‚ said he was perplexed by the insistence of the judiciary on giving Walus parole. Walus was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of SACP leader Chris Hani.

“I wonder if it was FW de Klerk who was assassinated instead by a black person‚ whether the attitude of the judge would be the same as in the case of Walus‚” Shozi wrote in his column.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked Shozi on Tuesday whether this was the kind of a statement that befitted a chairperson of a Chapter Nine institution to be published in a national newspaper.

Shozi said his intention was not to offend the judiciary or say it was incompetent.

“I think one was trying to explain‚ maybe it did not come across well. I was trying to explain the roles of three arms of government. It did not come out clearly.

“It came out as an attack on a judiciary. From where I am sitting I respect the judiciary‚” Shozi said.

Mogoeng had first asked Shozi whether those in the leadership of Chapter Nine institutions ought to be very careful about what they say or do on strengthening or weakening the country’s constitutional democracy.

Shozi had agreed with Mogoeng’s statement.

Mogoeng said impartiality‚ lack of bias and lack of prejudice were critical attributes for anybody hoping to serve as a commissioner of the IEC.

“On the face of this‚ what should we make of your suitability as a commissioner of the independent electoral commission?” Mogoeng asked.

Shozi cited a number of cases the commission on gender equality had dealt with‚ including the case of a municipality awarding bursaries to virgins.

The interview panel‚ headed by Mogoeng‚ was interviewing shortlisted candidates to fill three commissioner vacancies at the IEC.

The vacancies arose as a result of the end of the second term of office of vice chairman Terry Tselane and the end of the first terms of office of Judge Thami Makhanya and Rev Bongani Finca.