ANC rejects proposed pardon law

2010-01-14 20:05

Cape Town - The Office of the ANC Chief Whip said on Thursday it would "reject" a proposed law by the Democratic Alliance that would guide the president on granting pardons to criminal offenders.

The DA proposed the bill on Wednesday after the presidency confirmed it had received a request for a pardon from Zuma's former financial advisor and convicted fraudster, Schabir Shaik.

"The proposed bill by the Democratic Alliance is not born out of any legal or factual basis and is tantamount to seeking to amend the Constitution," a statement from the Office of the ANC Chief Whip said.

"The proposed bill is therefore either a product of poor legal advice or the work of an ignorant, publicity-starved MP."

The statement said any bill "that seeks to undermine the president and the Constitution as the supreme law of the republic through cheap publicity stunts is not worthy of serious engagement".

Will give bill to Speaker

DA MP James Selfe said on Wednesday it was currently not clear whether a presidential pardon could be taken to court for review.

He said the party would hand the Speaker a private member's bill - based on currently non-binding guidelines - that would force the president to consult the ministry of justice before making a decision.

The bill also stipulates that the president must consult with the victims of the crime before considering pardoning the perpetrator.

Selfe denied the bill sought to limit a constitutional power held by the president, saying it would simply help him make a "rational decision" and avoid accusations of abuse of power.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said he believed if the bill were passed, "it may run into constitutional trouble".

De Vos said he agreed with the DA that the right to pardon was not unfettered.

However, De Vos said the Constitutional Court had made it clear in the Hugo case - where a decision by former president Nelson Mandela was unsuccessfully challenged by a prisoner - that it is a prerogative power, limited only by the stipulation that it should be exercised in good faith.