An open letter to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng
Dear Chief Justice Mogoeng,
I am writing this letter because I want to acknowledge your indispensable role in our country – and to wish you a Happy New Year.
South Africa is going through a rough period in its democratic history – with the COVID19 global pandemic that has been mismanaged by our African National Congress (ANC) government helmed by Cyril Ramaphosa.
Sadly, we saw a lot of politicization of the pandemic across the world during the year – with politicians demagoguing on a daily basis. Here in South Africa, at one point people questioned whether President Ramaphosa listens to labor unions or disease scientists on his COVID19 response policy. That we reached this point – where such questions are asked – is unfortunate and shameful.
Because the dirty politics shape all that we do as a society, it’s now hard to find exemplary leadership in the country. A leadership that South Africa’s young people can look up to. Almost nobody amongst these leaders we have today is willing to make sacrifices for the nation. They choose to pursue and preserve their interests – and become greedy at the expense of the majority of South Africans.
Chief Justice, it is now that we need men of your calibre. You are amongst the very few leaders who are principled, have values, and are courageous to speak their mind. You have expressed your values in a way that is easy for all of us to understand.
I first met and took a photo with you at South Africa Brand Summit in Cape Town in May of 2018. You were the keynote speaker at the summit – I was one of the speakers. And thanks to my wonderful friend Solly Moeng for putting the conference together. I loved your speech! It was moving. You were honest on the challenges the country faces – and advised us to make a positive change in our society. I was also impressed by your thoughts on the outgoing US President Donald Trump. You were sensible – uttered sense in a world that has become senseless. I was enormously proud that this country still has a few leading men of your type.
When you were appointed as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court in 2011, by then President Jacob Zuma, many people thought that you’d be under Zuma’s political control. You have never been – at least in my observation. Instead, you’ve devoted yourself to preserving the country’s constitution. I praise you for that, for your great service in our beautiful country.
Some folks contended that your strong Christian faith will or may influence your judgements at the Court. I have not come across such a trend from you. I believe it’s because you understand that your job is to interpret the constitution of the land – not according to your faith – but according to how it is or was written.
And then there are those in politics, media, academia who have recently attacked you for expressing your Godly musings on COVID19 vaccines and vaccination. Some of them have gone as far as saying that you should lose your job for this. Madness!
People have a right to criticize your opinions – but to say that you deserve to lose your job for what you have said about vaccines is insane and despicable.
As Chief Justice Mogoeng, you have a right to your opinions and prayers about anything. So long as you don’t incite violence or spread hate. And this is an important time to speak up, as politicians have mismanaged the pandemic and abused their power. Just because you are Chief Justice doesn’t mean that you are denied your freedom of speech and thought as a citizen of South Africa. It is really disappointing that some people refuse to understand this.
I’ve always found it galling that we humans are expected to think the same. We now have to mind what we say so that we avoid hurting other people’s feelings. I hate that, because I hate political correctness Chief Justice.
My greatest concern about this country Justice Mogoeng, is that we refuse to be honest about the root causes of our socioeconomic problems. We rather choose to focus on things that are meaningless, divisive and slow down our progress.
I strongly believe that the fundamental problem in our society is the family breakdown – the absence of fathers. This matter – that is at the core of our problems doesn’t really get attention. About 60%, it’s estimated, of South Africa’s children are in homes without fathers.
That’s a lot – and is devastating to our nation. Children growing up without fathers are likely to go astray in life. Boys are more likely to commit crime and end up in prison, and girls are likely to become teenage mothers. These fatherless children are more likely to be poor too.
One American intellectual, Heather Mac Donald, who has written books on crime and policing in her country, once said that there is a positive relationship between crime and fatherlessness. With this high rate of shocking crime in South Africa – I have always wondered if a similar pattern exists. I bet it does.
Until we address this matter of absent fathers, we will struggle to make strides as a nation.
It’s men of your stature who can try to make a difference on this front – by publicly acknowledging the problem – and messaging. We can’t trust politicians. They are dishonest and choose to focus their attention on things that advance their political interests.
Chief Justice Mogoeng, I will wrap up by wishing you and your family a Happy New Year. Keep up speaking your mind in 2021. Don’t allow the intolerant to silent you. And hopefully, I will hear you speaking more about the absence of fathers and the family breakdown in this country. Because really, I believe that is at the core of our socioeconomic problems.
Wishing you a blessed and happy 2021.
Phumlani Majozi – Senior Fellow at African Liberty
Website: phumlanimjozi.com; e-mail: [email protected]