ConCourt review announcement: third time lucky?

2012-02-23 13:27

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe is set to announce more details on government’s proposed review of the Constitutional Court’s judgements on Tuesday.

This would be the third time that a time has been set for a press briefing on the issue.

Cabinet decided at the end of last year that such a review was necessary, but despite talk of a press conference, this never happened.

The Cabinet decision last year came amid the saga of former judge Willem Heath’s resignation after he told City Press that former president Thabo Mbeki was behind the rape charges against President Jacob Zuma.

Last week Radebe’s spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, said the briefing would happen yesterday, but it was postponed again because it would have clashed with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech on the same day.

Radebe told City Press earlier this month that the review would be part of a departmental discussion document on the transformation of the judiciary.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said at a post-Cabinet briefing this morning that the review was necessary because “we have an evolving democracy and we have a jurisprudence that continues to play its part in terms of court decisions”.

He said various rulings have a different impact on society. “There is nothing sinister,” he said.

“It is Cabinet saying we should make an assessment as to how this impacts society, so the whole assessment will be a scientific assessment and will be done in a very objective manner.”

He said the apartheid past had a “particular jurisprudence”, but now that South Africa was a “new country” 18 years into democracy, a review was necessary.

“It is also an evaluation on the impact of our jurisprudence on the democratisation process,” he said.

“I think it’s a very legitimate thing to do, and it will give us a commentary on the trajectory of the country.”

Manyi maintained that this wasn’t an attempt to undermine judicial independence.

Zuma recently told The Star in an interview that government wanted to review the powers of the Constitutional Court.

He also questioned whether split judgements were correct if there were some judges who disagreed with it.

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