Only in Mzansi: Disgraced Judge John Hlophe is one of the six Judicial Services Commission members (JSC) members. The JSC is responsible for interviewing potential judges and disciplining existing judges. The commission did precisely this when it found him guilty of gross misconduct, which led to his becoming one of two judges to be impeached by the Nation Assembly in democratic South Africa (the other was Nkola Motata, who made us all question the saying “as sober as a judge.”)

Hlophe, now the parliamentary chief whip of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, was impeached earlier this year in a historic removal. 305 MPs voted to impeach Hlophe, making him one of the first judges to be dishonourably discharged from service in our democratic history. 

The Democratic Alliance, along with the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), recorded their objections to Hlophe serving JSC, accusing the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and MK  of wishing to “tear down the independent judiciary, which the DA works to protect.”

In a statement, DA spokesperson on Justice and Constitutional Development, Glynnis Breytenbach, said it would be “irrational for the National Assembly to have the same person impeached representing the National Assembly on the JSC.” She noted that it was a conflict of interest and an attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary. “The National Assembly is bound to protect and assist the Judiciary’s independence, integrity, and dignity, which the DA does not take lightly,” she said.

Molapi Lekganyane, Fasiha Hassan, Breytenbach, Julius Malema, and Athol Trollip will serve on the JSC with Hlophe. 

Last Thursday, the National Assembly Rules Committee established 30 Portfolio Committees and five other committees, including standing ones. 

The established committees represent an increase of three from the 27 portfolio committees of the 6th Administration. The increase to 30 follows the separation of the Department of Agriculture from Rural Development and Land Reform, the separation of Science and Technology from Higher Education, Correctional Services from Justice, and the establishment of the Department of Electricity and Energy. Electricity did not have a Portfolio Committee before, as the Minister reported to the Presidency.