Zondo declines Holomisa’s request for intervention ahead of GNU conclusion

12 June 2024 - 18:49
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UDM president Bantu Holomisa. File photo.
UDM president Bantu Holomisa. File photo.
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Chief justice Raymond Zondo has declined a request from the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa to convene a meeting between 18 concerned parties ahead of the formation of the government of national unity (GNU).

In a letter TimesLIVE has seen, Zondo explains that he understands the circumstances around the request but concedes it is not his mandate to do so.

“I do not believe that as chief justice I have the power to call the 18 political parties to a meeting to discuss the issues you raise. Only the parties listed in your letter are happy for me to call such a meeting; the other political parties have not agreed that I should play such a role. That is not the kind of role that one can play if other parties have not agreed to the arrangement,” said Zondo.

This comes after the ANC lost its majority after 30 years of governing. This decision would cut across all hung provinces. The party was also dealt a bruising blow in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, dipping below the required 50% plus one.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an NEC decision last week to invite parties to a GNU as the most viable, effective and powerful way of meeting the expectations of all South Africans at this particular moment.

However, 18 other parties have called for Zondo’s intervention as GNU talks approach an advanced stage.

This request is “quite far apart from the fact that it is a role that the judiciary would normally not play”, he said.

“In saying that this is not the role that members of the judiciary would normally play, I am not unmindful that in Codesa 1 in the early 1990s there were members of the judiciary who were asked to facilitate discussions among the political parties which were engaged in negotiating the future of South Africa.”

Zondo referred to former chief justice MM Corbett, judge Ismail Mahomed, who later also became chief justice, and judge Pieter Schabort. However, Zondo said he believes the judiciary took part then because all political organisations were party to that arrangement, allowing the three judges to play that role.

In addition, he told Holomisa that in any event, some may argue that those circumstances necessitated the move. “The circumstance were extraordinary. It was critical to do anything possible to end apartheid rule and to usher in democracy. Although the current situation may be unprecedented since the dawn of democracy, it is not exactly the same as the situation before 1994.”

In this light, Zondo expressed his inability to intervene and said he hoped that parties will find each other.

“I regret that I am unable to accede to your request. However, it is my hope that all political parties will play a constructive role to ensure that South Africa has a government without any undue delay and that there is stability.

“I wish to express my appreciation for the decision of the parties listed in your letter to approach me to see if I could assist in the current situation.”


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