MP taken to task over judiciary comments

2012-10-24 20:33
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Cape Town - ANC MP Patekile Holomisa was reprimanded by the DA on Wednesday for asking how the government planned to guide courts to "exercise judicial restraint".

Holomisa put the question to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe during question time in the National Assembly.

Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts rose to comment that Holomisa's question was "shocking", and possibly prompted by cases where the DA had successfully taken government decisions on review.

"It is clear that it is the Honourable Holomisa who needs guidance and not the judiciary," Smuts said.

"The Honourable Holomisa has perhaps been led astray by his colleague [deputy minister of correctional services Ngoako] Ramathlodi who called on the courts earlier this year to exercise judicial restraint, or judicial constraint as he called it, after the DA won two cases of rationality review," Smuts said.

She said Motlanthe had corrected Holomisa, but been "too nice" in the manner in which he did so.

Motlanthe responded that the Constitution set out the powers of each arm of the government, and that the government would uphold the Constitution.

He said: "With regard to the judiciary, government continues to enact legislation and implement programmes to enhance the independence within the context of the separation of powers embedded in the Constitution.

"One of the significant safeguards against encroachment is the Constitutional Court which, as the highest court in the land, is entrusted with the important function of ensuring that each branch, including the judiciary, does not overstep its boundary.

Smuts said: "If the executive branch ever tried to guide the courts, they would kill off the Constitution."

Congress of the People MP Papi Konare said Holomisa's question pointed to a "very serious tendency in the ruling alliance" to undermine the judiciary and warned that it would scare off investment, cause job losses and destabilise the country.

He said the ANC had itself to blame for being overruled by the courts because its MPs drafted legislation that ran counter to the Constitution.

"The root cause of judgments against government are due to unconstitutional legislation promoted by elements in government attempting to bypass or undermine constitutional imperatives, rather than any deficiency in the judiciary."

- SAPA
Read more on:    patekile holomisa  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  dene smuts  |  judiciary  |  politics
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