Nkandla ruling one of the most important ConCourt judgments - expert

2016-03-31 13:16
(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

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ANALYSIS: End of the road on Nkandla, time to pay back

2016-03-31 12:14

A constitutional expert says there is no appeal on the Constitutional Court judgment.WATCH

Cape Town – The highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court, understood the fundamental importance of the Nkandla matter and took its time to clarify parties’ powers and responsibilities, an expert told News24 on Thursday.

"It realised that this is a critical case that is going to be a precedent for a long time to come, a judgment that will be studied by scholars for many, many years," said Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution.

"It’s really probably one of the most important judgments by the Constitutional Court in our democratic era. There is no appeal from here."

Democracy strengthened

Naidoo said the judgment was a victory for the Constitution and the rule of law, and a day "in which democracy had been strengthened".

It also showed that nobody was above the law, even President Jacob Zuma.

An important aspect was that the court had made declaratory orders that both Zuma and the National Assembly were in breach of their constitutional obligations.

The court found it was duty-bound to rule on that, Naidoo said.

At the same time, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was very clear on the separation of powers and stated the conditions under which the judiciary was empowered to step into the political domain.

Naidoo said that, in ordering the National Treasury to report back to it on the amount to be paid by Zuma, the court had taken on the responsibility of ensuring the Public Protector’s remedial action was in fact implemented.

Powers of Public Protector

There had been divided opinion on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s role until quite recently, even among legal experts, he said.

The judgment had now given teeth to the office of the Public Protector.

Naidoo said the judgment explained the nature and extent of the Public Protector’s powers and the different remedies it could use to resolve disputes.

On another aspect, the court found it was not acceptable to choose a political route to challenge, undermine and overrule the Public Protector’s findings.

"The way to do that was to do a judicial review of the Public Protector’s report, and on that basis, to challenge the report. The president opted not to do that, but rather to use the minister of police and Parliament to try and achieve the very same objective."

Read more on:    public protector  |  casac  |  thuli madonsela  |  jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade

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