It’s govt’s duty to review courts

2012-03-16 00:00

THE courts are not a government, neither can they be elevated to that status, President Jacob Zuma said in the National Assembly yesterday.

“It is important to make the distinction. You cannot elevate people to perform a task they are not supposed to perform.”

Zuma was responding to a follow-up question of DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko about the involvement of the executive in reviewing the Constitutional Court’s findings.

He went on to say: “The three spheres of government have very clearly recognisable functions. These must be respected.”

Parliament’s function is to make laws and provide oversight, he added.

“Even though the government makes the laws, it does not interpret them. That is the duty of the judiciary, which has to check to see whether this arm of government took all the constitutional implications into consideration when it made the laws and that the Constitution is not being violated.”

Similarly, it is the duty of the executive to run the country.

“The different arms of government respect one another’s powers.”

He said it is not the duty of the judiciary to review itself, but other arms of government do have that duty.

In reply to IFP MP Koos van der Merwe’s initial question, Zuma said he was somewhat surprised by the concerns raised regarding amendments to the Constitution, since it had already been amended a total of 16 times since 1996.

Zuma said now is an opportune time to review the capacity of the three arms of government to carry out their respective constitutional mandates.

To emphasise his point further he said the judiciary has the power to refer legislation back to Parliament if it is not satisfied and can request Parliament to have another look at certain laws. In doing that, the judiciary is not imposing on Parliament, but simply doing its duty.

Zuma said that with the review the executive merely wanted to ensure that everything was being done properly.

“We simply want to get rid of the negative things that still exist from the system from which we come.

“We are not intending to sit every day to change the Constitution. Not at all. We would have done so if we wanted to. We have got enough majority to do so.”

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