News24

Outcry over ConCourt review surprises Zuma

2012-03-15 18:43

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma again defended the government's decision to assess how Constitutional Court rulings have impacted on the law on Thursday.

He was responding during question time in the National Assembly to Koos van der Merwe of the Inkatha Freedom Party, who wanted to know whether he envisaged a constitutional amendment to amend the power of the Constitutional Court.

Zuma said he was a bit surprised by the concerns that had been raised regarding amendments to the Constitution.

The Constitution was a "living document", meant to be reviewed annually by a committee of Parliament, he said.

The Constitution had already been amended 16 times since it was adopted in 1996. This was a "perfectly normal exercise".

"We have alluded to the fact that the kind of assessment we are to embark upon is not unusual. For example, universities and research institutions undertake research at times to evaluate the impact of jurisprudence on the lives of people," he said.

This year marked 17 years of constitutional democracy and the 15th anniversary of the Constitution.

It was an opportune time to review the capacity of the three branches of the state in carrying out their respective constitutional mandates and how their efforts had contributed to the establishment of a truly free, equal, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous society.

"Continuous assessments, done in an open and transparent manner cannot possibly do any harm, especially given the legacy of colonial oppression and apartheid that we must eradicate."

Asked by Van der Merwe whether the ANC was planning to take South Africa back to a situation in which Parliament was supreme, instead of the Constitutional Court, Zuma said the three arms of government had very clear and distinct functions and those had to be respected.

Parliament legislated and conducted oversight, but did not interpret the laws. That was the duty of the judiciary. And the executive ran the country.

"We are not imposing or trying to change the Constitution. We are doing our duty. All we are saying is that in the process of governance we have got to come to a point where you say, let us relook at this, is it moving properly?

"We are not intending to sit every day to change the Constitution. Not at all. We would have done so if we wanted to. We have got enough majority to do so. Absolutely," Zuma said.

In any event, there was already a constitutional amendment before Parliament which amended the powers of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitution 17th amendment bill was introduced last year and, far from limiting the powers of the Constitutional Court, the bill in fact extended its jurisdiction.

One of the provisions of the bill concerned which cases could be taken on appeal from the Supreme Court of Appeal to the Constitutional Court.

At the moment, the Constitutional Court could consider appeals from the Supreme Court of Appeal that were constitutional matters, as well as issues connected with decisions on constitutional matters.

The amendment would allow the Constitutional Court to consider any appeal on the grounds that the interests of justice required that the matter be decided by the Constitutional Court.

"I am informed that deliberations on the bill are proceeding well in the justice and constitutional development portfolio committee, and that all parties are approaching the discussions with a view to arriving at the best conclusion for the administration of justice in our country," Zuma said.

Comments
  • Ben - 2012-03-15 18:57

    The public believes that the Concourt has nothing to do with the problems we are facing. If there is so much to do why would this matter now receive attention. This is a peculiar situation.

  • bernpm - 2012-03-15 19:00

    The real problem is that many do not trust the honest intentions of the government !

      Hermann - 2012-03-15 19:59

      Intentions the government has, but are they honest?

      Andrew - 2012-03-15 21:02

      Well said bernpm, the present ANC government has lost credibility as being honest and transparent. Both the Secrecy bill and it's attack on the concourt shows that it wants to take power away from the electorate.

  • Lacrimose - 2012-03-15 19:05

    "is it moving properly?" Visit any of the countless sites around the country where there are protests every day, see your own stats on joblessness and the poor products of the education system, talk to small business owners, the taxed-to-death middle-class or the hapless members of the police service that are under-trained, ill-equipped and under-staffed. Read a newspaper and see how DAILY people are unable to get medical care, a safe and inexpensive journey to work/school. Apart from war zones, we must be the most stressed-out nation on earth. There's no time to meddle with the Constitution. Start doing the work you were elected to do. Now.

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-03-15 19:07

      Agreed, Lacrimose. Too many irons in the fire.

      NickvanderLeek - 2012-03-15 20:13

      I agree. they're meddling in things for their own benefit, not the people they were elected to serve.

  • jeanpierre.dumont - 2012-03-15 19:18

    "We are not intending to sit every day to change the Constitution. Not at all. We would have done so if we wanted to. We have got enough majority to do so. Absolutely," Zuma said. Errrr......last time I checked the ANC did not have a majority to touch the constitution: 2009: 65.90 % 2004: 69.69%

      Lacrimose - 2012-03-15 20:01

      The problem with liberation movements that become ruling parties is that they all end up constipated, turning into anal bureaucrats once they put down their weapons. The "we could've if we'd wanted to" is politrick-speak for "it didn't suit us then, it does now". Because we're out of options.

      Geronimo - 2012-03-15 21:06

      Unfortunately Jean Pierre, the ANC would only need to woo a very small minority in the National Assembly to garner a 2/3rds majority. To amend the Constitution at least two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly (that is, at least 267 of the 400 members) would need to vote in favour of it. The ANC won 264 seats in the 2009 elections. They would need the support of only 3 more seats... the PAC hold 1, AZAPO hold 1... African People's Convention hold 1... UDM hold 4, IFP 18 and so on, and so on. They would at present very unfortunately easily gather the support of 2/3rds of the National Assembly.

      alansmartSnr - 2012-03-15 22:00

      @ Geronimo.. Thats true but the 2/3rds majority concernce only the less important clauses. When it comes to the structures and powers of the Concourt it's specificaly clear and cut in stone that a 75% majority is required.. something I dont think likely with their track record and the shrinking support they have brought about at the last two elections. But time will tell

  • Hugh - 2012-03-15 19:24

    Long Talk very ambiguous.

  • braamc - 2012-03-15 20:02

    And you Zuma is so honest and believable. More to hide, more to steal, and nothing done for the people.

  • Johnnie - 2012-03-15 20:09

    If the concourt has been changed 17 times, as Mr.Zuma says,why is it then whenever somebody asks for the death penalty to come back,the answer is always 'it is in the constitution' and can not be done.

      Piet - 2012-03-15 20:17

      valid f point we want the living document to kill some criminals!!!

  • charmaine.mcdonald2 - 2012-03-15 20:14

    Is it changing for the better or the worst? If the changes are negative, it will affect our future generations. I hope things change for the better. Let us pray to God that things change for the better.

  • Adam - 2012-03-15 20:21

    Leave the constitution alone, and amend the government.

      jannie.beirowski - 2012-03-15 20:37

      The old saying is that if some system does not work, you change the system, not the people. It seems this is the policy of the government, although they have redefined 'the system does not work' to 'the system does not work for me' and therefor they want to keep their people, but change the system.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-03-15 21:24

      What a brilliant idea! Mend or amend. Amen.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-03-15 20:53

    I really don't know why you people fuss so much. The majority of the 4000 South Africans at Polokwane voted me into the position as President of the Republic of South Africa. So, clearly, I have a mandate to do as I please. You complain about my 5 wives ( I also got them after a man date), about the R1m allowance I get for each of my 18 mandated children. You complain about my mandated right to fly in two aircraft simultaneously. You complain when I exercise my mandated right to silence the media and twist the judiciary. You are never satisfied. I try to shield you from the horrible truths of the ANC existence, but like true masochists you insist on suffering the facts. It seems the only way I can keep you people happy, is to remove the Constitution completely, because clearly, this thing is only sowing division amoungst us.

  • Peter - 2012-03-15 20:56

    "We are not imposing or trying to change the Constitution. We are doing our duty. All we are saying is that in the process of governance we have got to come to a point where you say, let us relook at this, is it moving properly?" In other words the same applies to the Legislature and the Executive arms ? Interesting - who would like to control the assessment of these 2 other arms of government. I wonder lol !

  • Michil - 2012-03-15 21:32

    Concourts had been Zuuuumed

  • Vince.York - 2012-03-15 21:46

    TRAPPED & DESPERATE is this zuma dynasty! Rode into power on promises to the previously nearly impotent house of traditional leaders to grant them unlimited power and untold wealth if they would support his ascension to the gateway of plenty - and they are now determined to undo Real Democracy in it's entirety so as to get back to that simplistic BIG CHIEF syndrome. It's shocking the Jeff Radebe can so easily slide into this messy groove aiding and abetting subversiveness against our Constitution, but then related to the Motsepe easy money and inside the inner core cabal - getting bloated faster than a cow in a lucerne field - it becomes understandable. THEY ARE ALL TOTALLY REMOVED FROM REALITY & THE GROUND & ESPECIALLY THE PEOPLE. Maybe SA was not ready for freedom and democracy after all - faced with the undermining pack of desperate lies we have thrust at us like a zuma all the time. Best would be to take this one by the scruff of the neck like the last and turf it into the night soil too! The youth can still easily bring about a murky hut storm here if not a desert storm when they find how these creatures have ripped them off.

  • marina.poniatowska - 2012-03-15 21:54

    "It was an opportune time to review the capacity of the three branches of the state in carrying out their respective constitutional mandates and how their efforts had contributed to the establishment of a truly free, equal, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous society." I almost pee'd myself laughing at this statement.

  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-03-15 21:58

    The ANC have really let most South Africans citizens down. The hope that filled all our hearts in 1994..that this was a new nation, we all felt a willingness to help build a nation to be proud of..who didn't want this back then? Then came the shock of the Arms Deal and from there the corruption has been like an unstoppable tornado...the ANC have long ago lost the educated persons trust...AND NOW THEY WANT TO ALTER THE CONSTITUTION, do they honestly believe the thinking citizen will just except this. We trust you less and less every day...SOUTH AFRICA I CALL ON YOU.. TO VOTE THIS IMMORAL DESTRUCTIVE GOVERNMENT OUT!!!!!!

  • sariena.robbertse - 2012-03-16 07:52

    Zuma,one day the water is going to spill out of your shower head.Someone is going to get tired of your stupidness.I think it will be one of your own that will send you where you will feel at home

  • paul.prinsloo3 - 2012-03-16 10:59

    In essence, Zuma said unequivocally YES, but in many unintelligible words, to Van Der Merwe's question. Zuma does not know enough about anything to be allowed to reply to questions of that nature without unintentionally divulging him, and his party's real intentions. Now that we know, what are we, the responsible (and concerned)citizens going to about it except whine?

  • Dhavandran - 2012-03-23 10:12

    ya ya ya ???????????????????. we believe you mr president. yawn

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