Dali Mpofu, advocates wait for silk from Jacob Zuma

2014-09-07 10:22

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Prominent member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Dali Mpofu and former pension funds adjudicator Vuyani Ngalwana are just a few of the prominent black advocates waiting for President Jacob Zuma to sign off on their silk status for almost a year.

Mpofu, the former group chief executive of the SABC, has been a controversial figure since butting heads with the ANC leadership.

He represented Julius Malema in his disciplinary case at Luthuli House.

When they lost, and Malema was expelled from the ANC, Mpofu left with him to form the EFF.

Mpofu has also taken over the case of another Zuma foe, abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who is challenging Zuma’s move to strip him of his title.

Ngalwana was a prominent pension funds adjudicator before going back to practising full time. He previously represented the police at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

He sparked controversy at the Johannesburg Bar Council in April last year after tweeting comments critical of other advocates at the commission, including struggle icon George Bizos, who is representing the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation at the commission.

He later apologised to Bizos.

Ngalwana and Mpofu have refused to comment on their application for silk status this week.

But another advocate, who is also awaiting silk status confirmation and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he hoped the president’s delay had nothing to do with politics.

“It would be silly to punish 50 people and make them wait because you want to target one or two people. Once the profession has recognised you as a leader, it shouldn’t be up to politicians to hold up that recognition.”

Silk status is conferred by the president on the recommendation of Bar councils. It is awarded to a select group of advocates as recognition for excellence in the profession and for their experience.

Another advocate, who also asked not to be named, said conferring silk status on those who had applied would help speed up transformation.

“For example, we have a shortage of black female judges. Given that there are women in this limbo, if they had been [senior counsel], they would be regarded as candidates for the Bench.”

Others in limbo include Advocate Themba Skosana of the Pretoria Bar Council.

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