Lawyers association slams ANC KZN chair for 'dangerous' remarks

2017-08-19 12:25
Sihle Zikalala. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Sihle Zikalala. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) on Saturday called on ANC chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, to withdraw comments he made against a lawyer during High Court proceedings in Pietermaritzburg this week.

Nadel said Zikalala had referred to Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi as a counter-revolutionary. They said the “unwarranted allegations” against the advocate came about because he had previously represented members of other political organisations.

“Members of the legal profession have the right to represent any client of their choice despite that client’s political affiliation. A lawyer may represent the views of his client and these views are not necessarily the views or opinions of the lawyer. This is a cornerstone upon which the independence of the legal profession is based,” said Nadel spokesperson Memory Sosibo.

The court case pushing for the scrapping of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC's 8th provincial elective conference in November 2015 was heard in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday and Thursday.

ANC councillor Lawrence Dube and four others brought the court case against the ANC in May 2016.

Respondents in the matter include Zikalala, his deputy Willies Mchunu, the ANC itself, other top ANC figures, and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa

The elective conference in question saw Zikalala beat former premier Senzo Mchunu to become the provincial chairperson.

Judgment was reserved.

Dangerous statements

Sosibo said that Zikalala’s statements were “of a serious and of a dangerous nature” and that it challenged the independence of the legal profession.

“Such a statement offends against the principles of good governance including adherence to the rule of law, democracy and accountability.”

He said the attack was neither warranted nor acceptable “in a constitutional dispensation such as ours and is seen in countries where democracy is on the decline”.

“Attacking the independence of the legal profession is a tradition of the apartheid regime and has no place in a democratic society.”

History of “revolutionary credentials”

Sosibo said it was an attack on Ngcukaitobi’s character, adding that Ngcukaitobi had “revolutionary credentials”.

“Advocate Ngcukaitobi grew up in the revolution and he has always associated himself with the poor and progressive forces of the revolution. He hails from the ranks of the ANC Youth League and Sasco at the University of Transkei where he later became the president of the Students Representative Council.”

He added that Ngcukaitobi “joined hands with Nadel and Advocates for Transformation”.

“That would be enough to demonstrate that he has never been a counter revolutionary.”

Sosibo said the ANC was represented by white lawyers in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg at a time “when we are battling with the issue of transformation”.

“We cannot understand why the applicants are being vilified by electing to be represented by black lawyers. It is on this basis that we insist that black lawyers must be accorded the same respect as accorded to their white, notable male counterparts.”

He added, “We consider it especially dangerous as it could incite violence against Advocate Ngcukaitobi and other lawyers who represent opponents of the ANC especially in a province that is noted for political killings.”

Lawyer involved with EFF

ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said that Zikalala’s comments had to be considered in context.

“I think the first thing is that they have to understand why, in context, the chairperson said what he did.”

He said in the past and more so in recent months, Ngcukaitobi had been involved in the work of the Economic Freedom Front (EFF).

“He has been active in that space.”

Ntuli said Ngcukaitobi did not believe in the ANC.

“That is why chairperson says he is part of those who want to see the ANC disintegrated. You are counter revolutionary if you are willing to work for the demise of the cause of the ANC and the ANC itself.”  

Bordering on being racist

Ntuli added that comments on the ANC’s advocate Greg Harper were “bordering on being racist”.

“That attitude fails to distinguish between an issue raised against Ngcukaitobi not on the basis of his colour but the basis of his conduct.”

He added, “They seem to be suggesting that because he is white, he is supposed to be a problem to us as ANC…because to give work to a white advocate is tantamount to undermining the ANC’s call for radical economic transformation.”

Ntuli said that the ANC had never been anti-white.

“Advocate Harper was not alone. He was accompanied by two advocates who were Africans. We have never been anti-white.” 

Read more on:    anc  |  sihle zikalala  |  durban

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