Disgraced Judge John Hlophe has landed a leading role as parliamentary chief whip of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party. 

Hlophe was impeached earlier this year over a 2008 case involving then-president Jacob Zuma. This week he made a surprise debut as a senior leader in Zuma’s new party, being sworn in as a member of Parliament belatedly with the rest of the caucus, despite not being associated with the party previously or on the MK’s list of candidates.

Hlophe will probably take on the important role of official leader of the opposition in parliament as the MK is now the largest party in opposition with the DA joining the GNU. 

Once the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Hlophe’s tenure was marred by numerous controversies. But his shocking attempts to sway judges in favour of Zuma back in 2008 eventually led to a historic removal with 305 MPs voting to impeach him this year, making him the first judge to be dishonourably discharged from service in our democratic history. 

Exactly how Hlophe was able to land a new gig without so much as a campaign poster is another issue.

The MK party secured 58 seats in Parliament. But as we previously told you, the party boycotted Parliament’s first sitting, on 15 June, where MPs were sworn in. At the time they insisted it was because of their (unrefuted) claims the election was rigged. But the party subsequently made a u-turn and its 58 MPs were sworn in this week. Why?

As Sunday Times editor Sthembiso Msomi put it: “It would seem that the “boycott” was a ruse; the party was buying time while it tried to fix its candidates list. In the run-up to the polls it had submitted to the Electoral Commission a haphazardly compiled list of individuals who would make no meaningful contribution to the debates in the House… the MK Party suddenly found itself in line to be the official opposition — but without MPs with the requisite skills and experience to do so.”

The party then made a whopping 21 changes to its original list of 58 MPs, including Hlophe.  

He effectively replaces both Jacob Zuma and Jabulani Khumalo as the leader of the party in parliament due to Zuma’s ineligibility to stand as an MP due to a criminal conviction.

Hlophe has led calls to “Africanise” the legal system and revisit land ownership laws—not particularly constitutional. A front-page headline by The Sowetan this week captured the irony brilliantly, contrasting the MK manifesto call to “scrap” the constitution alongside their oath to be faithful to it, punctuated by the words “So help us, God.” Indeed.

PS. Also sworn in belatedly for the ANC was corruption-accused Zizi Kodwa. We celebrated with you when he recently stepped down as minister of sport, arts and culture, in keeping with the ANC’s “step aside” rule. How annoying that they’re trying to sneak him back into a position of leadership. However, pressure is mounting to have him removed.