ConCourt decisions to be 'assessed'
Cape Town - The decisions of the Constitutional Court are to be assessed as part of a broader look at transformation of the judicial system, government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday.
At its regular Wednesday meeting, Cabinet decided that the transformation of the judicial system and the role of the judiciary in a developmental state would be assessed by a "reputable research institution", he told reporters.
The assessment would be threefold.
It would seek to ensure that the judiciary "conforms to the transformation mandate as envisaged in the Constitution" in terms of non-racialism, gender, disability and other transformational variables.
It would also examine access to justice on all levels of the courts, from the lower courts through to the Constitutional Court.
The third focus would be to affirm the independence of the judiciary, that of the executive and of Parliament to promote independence and the interface necessary to realise transformation goals as envisaged in the Constitution.
Manyi said Cabinet had agreed on a specific approach to the transformation of the judicial system.
This included that the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court be undertaken by a research institution to establish how the "decisions of the court have impacted on the lives of ordinary citizens and how these decisions have influenced socio-economic transformation and the reform of the law".
Asked whether it was appropriate that, in terms of the separation of powers, Cabinet order an investigation of the Constitutional Court, he said the executive had a duty "to do what it has to do".
The assessment was a "positive" exercise.
"The fact of the matter is that the decisions that get taken [by courts] have got an impact in society. It [the assessment] is a positive exercise. There's nothing to raise temperatures about. It's a positive exercise.
"It's to say: The decisions that these courts take, the impact they have on society, are we moving in the right direction, and so on," he said.
It was also an opportunity to reflect and see "if all three arms of the state are operating as the Constitution requires them to do".
Manyi said Cabinet would do nothing that was unconstitutional.
"It's just to make sure that the inter-dependence of the three arms of... the state operate efficiently. Cabinet has the responsibility to ensure that all is in place," he said.
The agreed approach to transformation also included using the Judicial Education Institute as a vehicle for transformation through which aspirant and serving judicial officers could acquire the necessary skills to contribute to the evolving local and global constitutional jurisprudence.
Measures would also be taken to enhance the efficiency and integrity of the Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates' Commission in carrying out their constitutional mandate of facilitating the racial, gender, and other constitutional prescripts in the judiciary.
An appropriate framework would be established to regularly monitor implementation of court decisions by all state departments, he said.
The mandates of the SA Law Reform Commission and the Rules Board of Law would be reviewed to "enhance the research capacity of the state to be able to lead transformation in the fields that have greater impact on the lives of people, such as socio-economic transformation, land reform, mining, aviation, and many more".
Appropriate mechanisms would also be developed to facilitate regular interface between the three spheres of government to "enhance synergy and constructive engagement among them in pursuit of common transformative goals geared to benefit society at large", Manyi said.