Courts can't be superior, Zuma says

2011-11-01 20:01

  • Zuma Exposed
    This book exposes Jacob Zuma, in such a way that he would not want you or anyone else to read it. Now R189.00
    buy now
Cape Town - The powers conferred on the courts cannot be regarded as superior to the powers resulting from a mandate given by the people in a popular vote, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

It was necessary to distinguish the areas of responsibility between the judiciary and the elected branches of the state, he told a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The special sitting was called to bid farewell to former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, and to welcome Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

"In paying tribute to our former and current chief justice, we reiterate our firm belief in the principles of the rule of law, the separation of powers, and judicial independence," Zuma said.

"Having said that, we also wish to reiterate our view that there is a need to distinguish the areas of responsibility, between the judiciary and the elected branches of the state, especially with regards to policy formulation."

The executive, as elected officials, had the sole discretion to decide policies for government, he said.

The principle of separation of powers meant the encroachment of one arm of the state on the terrain of another should be discouraged, and there should be no bias in this regard.

"We respect the powers and role conferred by our Constitution on the legislature and the judiciary," Zuma said.

"At the same time, we expect the same from these very important institutions of our democratic dispensation."

The executive should be allowed to conduct its administration and policy-making work as freely as it possibly could.

The powers conferred on the courts could not be regarded as superior to the powers resulting from a mandate given by the people in a popular vote, Zuma said.

To provide support to the judiciary and free the courts to do their work, it would help "if political disputes were resolved politically".

"We must not get a sense that there are those who wish to co-govern the country through the courts, when they have not won the popular vote during elections," Zuma said.

"This interferes with the independence of the judiciary."

Allegiance to the Constitution

Speaking towards the close of the sitting, Ngcobo said no branch of government was superior to others in the service of the Constitution.

The Constitution was a "promissory note", he said.

"It is a promise of a new society that is based on democratic values, social justice, and fundamental human rights."

The people of South Africa had entrusted the responsibility to establish this society to the three branches of government.

Each branch of government thus had to observe the constitutional limits on its powers and authority.

"There is no branch that is superior to others in the service of the Constitutional mission of the Republic," Ngcobo said, be it the judiciary, the legislature, or the executive.

In addition to ensuring they observed the constitutional limits on their powers and authority, government should seek to maintain public confidence.

In the case of the judiciary that confidence was not earned by virtue of a court being pro or anti the executive, he said.

The court did not earn the public's confidence merely by overturning legislative Acts on review or by consistently upholding them.

"It is earned by the judiciary demonstrating through its conduct and the well-reasoned judgments it produces that it holds the scales of justice evenly," Ngcobo said.

"Public confidence is earned when the judiciary demonstrates in the words of the Constitution that it is independent subject to the Constitution and the law, which it must apply impartially and without fear, favour, or prejudice."

After all, judges owed allegiance to nothing except the Constitution and the law.

"The judicial branch of government will only have the confidence of the people itself if it is truly independent," Ngcobo said.

Read more on:    mogoeng mogoeng  |  jacob zuma  |  sandile ngcobo  |  judiciary

Arms inquiry continues

58 minutes ago

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


The truth about painkillers and exercise

Many of us use painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines to mask pain so they can continue with their training.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Where were you when you last felt alive?
Watch: Fishing under ice
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
This is why you need to get fit in your 20's

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.