Zuma back from Brics summit, set to face chief justice

2015-07-11 22:22
Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has returned to the country after a Brics summit in Russia, and is expected to meet with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng soon to discuss the recent attacks against the judiciary. 

Zuma said in a statement on Saturday that the summit helped "deepen co-operation" between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 

"There is no doubt in our minds that almost seven years after we joined Brics, the world's geopolitics is changing and the Brics bloc of countries is having a significant impact particularly on the developing economies. We are pleased with the outcomes of the seventh Brics summit.".

The presidency said in a statement on Thursday that Zuma would attend to a request by Mogoeng's for a meeting after he returned from the summit. 

"The presidency has noted the request of the chief justice of the Republic, Honourable Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, to meet with President Jacob Zuma to discuss the concerns of the judiciary pertaining to relations between the executive and the judiciary arms of the state," it said.

"The president will attend to the matter as soon as he returns from the Brics summit in Ufa, in the Russian Federation.

"The president wishes to reassert his own commitment and that of the executive to the independence of the judiciary and its role as the final arbiter in all disputes in society, as well as to the further strengthening of the existing good working relations between the two arms of the state."

Mogoeng addressed journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday and hit back at the ruling party's criticisms of the judiciary.

He rejected claims that judges are being influenced to reach specific verdicts, saying he wanted to share his concerns about the allegations with Zuma.

"There have been suggestions that in certain cases... judges have been prompted to arrive at a predetermined result. This is a notion that we reject," Mogoeng said.

It was previously reported that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko told senior managers of the Independent Police Investigating Directorate that there were "interesting" elements in the judiciary who "meet with characters to produce certain judgments".

He did not mention any specific cases.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, after an alliance summit last week, expressed concern about the judiciary interfering with the executive and the legislature, in what he termed “judicial overreach”.

He later told reporters on Thursday that he was not worried about the independence of the judiciary. 

"I think the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed and it is not under attack, but to interpret that to mean we must express no view on the judiciary... I think that is stretching it too far," he said. 

"My own view is that the meeting between the chief justice and the president will help clarify this."

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that the role of the judiciary needed to be debated. 

"Yesterday [Wednesday] we saw the body of judges responding to what is perceived to be negative criticisms," Ramaphosa told delegates at the SA Communist Party's special national congress at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

"Where there's criticism, people need to gather and debate this."

Ramaphosa said Mogoeng needed to hear the views of the people on the ground.

"What we will relay to the judges is the collective views of ordinary people on the ground; we would like them to have an understanding of that as well. We will take heed of what the judges have to say."

SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande on Saturday welcomed the planned meeting between leaders of the judiciary and Zuma, saying it was everybody's right to question whether the judiciary is interfering in parliamentary processes.

''We are concerned about judicial over-reach and that they must tread carefully. And that is not out of disrespect,'' said Nzimande at the conclusion of the SACP's Special National Congress. 

'For courts to rule on parliamentary rules that are made by Parliament, that's really over-reaching,'' he said.

''And worse also you rule in such a manner that it reinforces the hooliganism of the [Economic Freedom Fighters]. That's a problem. South Africans are concerned.''

Read more on:    mogoeng mogoeng  |  jacob zuma  |  judiciary  |  politics

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