News24

Govt defends ConCourt assessment

2012-02-23 13:36

Cape Town - The government maintains that a proposed assessment of the Constitutional Court's judgments is not an attempt to undermine judicial independence.

Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday that Cabinet had reinforced both President Jacob Zuma's message and Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe's statement by "welcoming debate and discourse which is characteristic of our constitutional democracy".

Cabinet held its regular fortnightly meeting on Wednesday.

Manyi said in Cape Town that the justice and constitutional development department further clarified the point that this "is an assessment of the impact of the judgments of the Constitutional Court on the transformation of society".

"It is also an evaluation of the impact of our jurisprudence on the democratisation process," he told reporters.

Independence


"Cabinet advises that this should not be misconstrued as an attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law as entrenched in our Constitution."

Last week, the Star newspaper reported that Zuma wanted to review the Court's powers.

"We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers," Zuma said during an interview.

"It is after experience that some of the decisions are not decisions that every other judge in the Constitutional Court agrees with."

He questioned the logic of having split judgments and said judges were being influenced by the media.

"How could you say that [the] judgment is absolutely correct when the judges themselves have different views about it?" Zuma told the newspaper.

He said that if decisions by Parliament could be challenged, there was nothing wrong with questioning the judiciary.

Criticism

This has been strongly criticised from various quarters.

Among others, Dene Smuts of the DA said Zuma would find he was on the path to a full-blown confrontation with the Constitutional Court if his remarks really "mean what they seem to mean", because the court itself decided the constitutionality of constitutional amendments.

"It is apparent from the president's remarks that irritation with some of the court's judgments lies at the root of the desire for review," she said.

Also last week, the Black Lawyers' Association (BLA) said the executive and the legislature did not have the power to amend or review the Constitutional Court's powers.

"The only way... is to divorce the current constitutional democracy and remarry parliamentary sovereignty," BLA president Pritzman Mabunda said.

If this route was followed, it may be subjected to constitutional scrutiny by the Constitutional Court, which was the subject matter, he said.

Comments
  • Brett - 2012-02-23 13:42

    BLA (Black Lawyers Association)? Sounds a bit racist doesnt it?

      Peter - 2012-02-23 13:57

      No Brett, the formation of this association was informed by the marginalisation of black lawyers in the past. They decided to group themselves in order to fight the injustices as one voice. Let's not play the race card where unnecessary, I would count a whole lot of organisations that serves a specific race but that wouldn't help in debating the race issue.

      Brett - 2012-02-23 14:00

      @Peter the past you refer to has pretty much been over for 20 years. Shouldnt they move with the times? What other organisation that serves a specific race are you referring to? The ANC? The ANCYL?

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-02-23 14:09

      I agree with Brett. Having a Black this and a Black that in S.A. is about as ludicrous as having a White this and a White that in Sweden.

      MoAfrika - 2012-02-23 14:15

      No. It doesn't.

      Hugh - 2012-02-23 14:25

      Um Peter, how well would the "White Lawyers Association" go down? As Racist? Sorry, only white dudes can be racist, black guys are exempt due to past marginalisation.

      Bob - 2012-02-23 15:05

      More than sounds it Brett, it is racist, some people have yet to realise there is more than one form of racism.

      Garth - 2012-02-23 15:11

      Surely, one of such esteemed intellect as yourself MoAf, would rationalise that any association formed by one race to the exclusion of all other races must have base racism as its core. The very definition of the word racism is extrapolated from the title `Black Lawyers Association.'

  • butch.poulter - 2012-02-23 14:05

    "We dont want to review the constitutional court we want to review its powers" Pls Explain

      Glyn - 2012-02-23 14:17

      The anc want the ConCourt in their pockets! The anc want a TOTALITARIAN STATE! Complete with Nazi Blackshirts!

      Hugh - 2012-02-23 14:28

      Yip, they dont like Concourt lawyers being influenced by the Media, hence the secrecy act to shut them up, and then appoint their own head of the concourt so that its in their pocket. Much less irritation.

      David - 2012-02-23 14:45

      JZ's plan is coming together. 1st he appointed controversial Judge Moegoe Moegoe to head the Concourt, now for the next step..fill the bench with ANC-crony judges.. ala Zimbabwe. Uncle Bob has taught the ANC well... I see.

      Bob - 2012-02-23 15:07

      LOL butch, exactly, who cares if they review the constitutional court, it's the reviewing of it's powers that concerns us.

      Neil - 2012-02-23 15:44

      "We the ANC government declare a state of emergency. No more freedom of the press/information or opinion. Any political or economic activity which does not advance the agenda of the ANC MEC and friends is now declared as illegal and cannot be tolerated. All challenges are a result of the racist, imperialist, western, capitalist, colonist, Christian Missionary past and present 3rd forces. We accept the collateral benefits but will still proclaim mass injustice. White Farm murders are only a statistical anomaly which we can ignore as it is a result of our apartheid cultural upbringing forced upon us". These ANC dudes have a special way with words; "no problems just challenges", same as saying "we won’t kill you but only injure you to death". Please Bra Jacob just come out and say it as you would dearly like to say it ...

  • alansmartSnr - 2012-02-23 14:12

    Changing or reviewing the "Powers" of the Con-Court is the first step towards a dictatorship.. Zuma.. take a long hard look at what has been happening in the the North Africa dictatorships..We dont need that kind of shut? in this lovely country!

      Sharon - 2012-02-23 15:05

      If they feel the need to deny it, it is probably true.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-02-23 14:18

    By day 20 you don't hear that jackhammer anymore. Old trick. Never trust the ANC.

  • Ben - 2012-02-23 14:21

    Not an attempt to undermine judicial independence. The reason given is acceptable, but why start at the end. It is the constitutional court's function to make a decision on this matter only when someone feels that a decision is not in line with the constitution, but not to have an influence on the decision. As government makes the decisions, who are liable to make mistakes?

  • Sallie - 2012-02-23 14:33

    The reason why public always treat (ANC) Government with suspicion is that what the say and what they do differs. Government (ANC) speaks with forked tounge.

  • J.D. - 2012-02-23 14:34

    The ANC feels the pressure from the DA, now even in Limpopo. They know the only way they can "keep Jesus from coming" is to assume all the powers they can by implementing this secrecy bill and overrule the concourt. It is so predictable and clear.

  • Marius Koen - 2012-02-23 14:35

    Talk and debate as much as you want, at the end of the day you will just do whatever you want. So there is no democracy.

  • Sariena - 2012-02-23 14:54

    Why interfere in the law instead of feed the hungry in this country.You are a disgrace to us.Step down or fall dead....

  • IrvinIco - 2012-02-23 15:09

    The government`s intended review of th Constitutional Court is an open ploy to control the court and its outcome.Should they succeed and also succeed with the implementation of the secrecy bill, then we should kiss accoutability and democracy goodbye.How typical of African leaders.

      Zingisa - 2012-02-23 15:21

      i agree with you IvirnMan. if Zuma can review the constitution what's going to stop him fro changing it later on?

  • christian.helberg - 2012-02-23 15:11

    they want a crackdown, we are not idiots. Next they will want to change the Constitution, as bob in zim did

  • SJ - 2012-02-23 15:16

    They can say what they want, but I will never trust any regime or person who steals R20billion in just one year.

  • zeekoevlei - 2012-02-23 15:25

    "We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers," Zuma said during an interview... ummm I think they are pretty clear about what they intend doing.

  • Neil - 2012-02-23 15:50

    We the ANC government declare a state of emergency. No more freedom of the press/information or opinion. Any political or economic activity which does not advance the agenda of the ANC MEC and friends is now declared as illegal and cannot be tolerated. All challenges are a result of the racist, imperialist, western, capitalist, colonist, Christian Missionary past and present 3rd forces. We accept the collateral benefits but will still proclaim mass injustice. White Farm murders are only a statistical anomaly which we can ignore as it is a result of our apartheid cultural upbringing forced upon us". These ANC dudes have a special way with words; "no problems just challenges", same as saying "we won’t kill you but only injure you to death". Please Bra Jacob just come out and say it as you would dearly like to say it ...

  • Jason - 2012-03-10 18:23

    Ok so let me understand... the majority judgement of 11 highly qualified Constitutional Court judges is going to be "reviewed" by a government official? WTF????

  • lhfick - 2012-03-11 02:42

    Let us think, no Cele tried this already!

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