8 White. 8 Female. 8 Black

2015-03-08 15:01

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Luzuko Jacobs

Parliament spokesperson

On the basis of a shaky and anaemic argument, the article, “Black lawyers blast Mbete” by Charl du Plessis and Maryna Lamprecht (City Press, March 1 2015) casts aspersions on the commitment to transformation by Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete.

It deduces from dodgy “facts” and an uninformed basis that Parliament’s practices diverge from its key political and strategic mandate to support the transformation of society, mainly the legal fraternity.

Three examples serve as ballast for the assertion that “Baleka Mbete hires expensive, white-male advocates to win court cases”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our records of recent and current legal matters show that the counsel employed comprised eight white males, eight black males and eight black females.

The cases cited in the article were urgent matters brought against Parliament and the senior counsel engaged were the best available, on an urgent basis, at the time.

The article also incorrectly claimed that the Speaker decides on which counsel Parliament should engage.

But the Speaker and the chairperson of the national council of provinces, Thandi Modise, act together as the executive authority and make these decisions based on the recommendations of Parliament’s legal services.

The urgent applications cited in the article involved constitutional issues.

Agang SA’s application was the most recent one, which the Western Cape High Court dismissed on February 27.

In delivering his order, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said the “ambitious” relief sought about the role of the Speaker, as presiding officer, and the demand for a secret ballot were complex constitutional questions, the outcomes of which were unpredictable.

Parliament is committed to transformation.

It is here, after all, where the laws on transformation have been considered and passed.

The presiding officers have been meeting stakeholders from several sectors in our society to discuss how to entrench a democratic society.

We will certainly be arranging a meeting with Advocates for Transformation to discuss their concerns directly with them.

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