Quote of the week

Universal adult suffrage on a common voters roll is one of the foundational values of our entire constitutional order. The achievement of the franchise has historically been important both for the acquisition of the rights of full and effective citizenship by all South Africans regardless of race, and for the accomplishment of an all-embracing nationhood. The universality of the franchise is important not only for nationhood and democracy. The vote of each and every citizen is a badge of dignity and of personhood. Quite literally, it says that everybody counts. In a country of great disparities of wealth and power it declares that whoever we are, whether rich or poor, exalted or disgraced, we all belong to the same democratic South African nation; that our destinies are intertwined in a single interactive polity.

Justice Albie Sachs
August and Another v Electoral Commission and Others (CCT8/99) [1999] ZACC 3
30 August 2011

Call to LGBT community to attend Mogoeng interview on Saturday


The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP – www.equality.org.za) calls on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersexed (LGBTI) community to come out in massive numbers to attend and observe the interview of Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Mogoeng has been nominated by President Jacob Zuma as a candidate for Chief Justice. In this position, he would also be the head of the country’s Constitutional Court.
This JSC interview will be held as follows:
DATE : Saturday, 3rd September 2011
TIME : 09h15 for 09h45
VENUE : Westin Hotel, Lower Long Street, Convention Square next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town
The LGEP is critical of the nomination of Mogoeng for the position of Chief Justice. We joined together with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Section 27 and the Sonke Gender Justice Network in submitting our concerns to the JSC. In short, our concerns centre on Mogoeng’s problematic decisions and omissions on sexual orientation and gender-based violence. In essence, these decisions and omissions could mean that if Mogoeng were to become the Chief Justice our Constitutional Court would be led by someone with questionable commitment to gender equality and the rights of LGBTI people to live freely without discrimination and oppression.
For these reasons, the LGEP believes that the JSC and Mogoeng himself must see and feel the organised presence of LGBTI people in defence of constitutional rights and to demonstrate how seriously we take the value and importance of the Constitutional Court.
The LGEP also calls on the LGBTI community to attend the interviews in all our colourful, militant and activist expression. The TAC, Section 27, Sonke and the LGEP are working with other organisations to convene an afternoon Activist Teach-In that will take place from 2pm on Friday, 2nd September 2011. This teach-in will take place at the Sonke offices, 4th Floor Westminster House, 122 Longmarket Street, Cape Town CBD. This teach-in will be a public discussion of the joint LGEP-Sonke-TAC submission to the JSC and will also be used to explain what procedure to follow in attending Mogoeng’s public interview. For example, members of the public attending the interviews are not allowed to bring placards or make statements during the interview. However, they can come in wearing t-shirts with slogans. The teach-in will also serve as people’s forum for public discussion of additional views concerning Mogoeng’s nomination.
The judgments given by Mogoeng as cited in the joint LGEP-Sonke-TAC-Section 27 submission show evidence of Mogoeng’s patriarchal attitude to women. In his judgments, Mogoeng reached for arguments akin to “she asked for it”, “she wasn’t really hurt”, “he was understandably sexually aroused” and “it wasn’t really that bad because he was not a stranger”.  Obviously, these are objectionable and not in line with the Constitution and the Sexual Offences Act. Mogoeng’s arguments are not befitting a judicial officer, let alone one who occupies a seat on the Constitutional Court.  His membership of the Winners Chapel South Africa is another extreme cause for concern. This church believes that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured. Mogoeng also dissented from a majority decision of the Constitutional Court in the Dey matter. In this case, the Court decided that it was not defamatory for someone to be called gay. Mogoeng did not give reasons for his dissent.
As a result of these judgments and omissions, we hold a strong view that Mogoeng is not suitable for the position President Zuma has nominated him for. The position is that of the highest judicial office. In addition to his services on the Constitutional Court, Mogoeng would be required to lead the judiciary, including in relation to racial and gender transformation. We have no confidence in his ability either to dispense justice in accordance with the values of the Constitution or in his ability to address the complex gender questions that arise in the judiciary and in the legal profession appropriately. We have no reason to believe that Mogoeng will not exhibit similar patriarchy in relation to gender transformation in the judiciary, the legal profession and indeed society as a whole. 
It is in light of the above that the LGEP calls on the LGBTI community to show its concern regarding Mogoeng’s nomination by attending his JSC interview en masse.
Consequently, the joint LGEP-Sonke-TAC-Section 27 submission asks the JSC to seek the following public commitments from Mogoeng:

1.    A public commitment that he will not take part in the activities of any organisation that practices discrimination inconsistent with the Constitution; and

2.    A public commitment that he will uphold and protect the Constitution and the human rights entrenched in it including the rights of LGBTI persons to equality before the law, equal protection and benefit of the law and freedom from unfair discrimination – whether public and private – on the basis of sexual orientation.

The presence of the LGBTI community at Mogoeng’s JSC interview will demonstrate the organised presence and support of the LGBTI community for a Constitutional Court that promotes, advances and protects the Constitution.
LGEP: Busi Kheswa – 083 460 2942, 011 487 3811, busi@equality.org.za , www.equality.org.za
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