SAIRR slams Zuma on judiciary

2011-09-19 12:09
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma wants to make sure the judiciary "doesn't get in his way" or "scrutinise him too deeply", according to the chief executive of the SA Institute of Race Relations on Monday.

John Kane-Berman said in a speech in Cape Town that a number of commentators had professed themselves "baffled" and "in some cases stunned" by Zuma's failure to appoint Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke as chief justice.

"One editorial in the Mail and Guardian newspaper said that President Zuma portrays a profound lack of understanding about role of judiciary in a constitutional democracy," Kane-Berman said.

"On the contrary Mr Zuma understands that role perfectly well. He just doesn't agree with it. And he wants to make sure the judiciary doesn't get in his way or scrutinise him too deeply."

Zuma confirmed Mogoeng Mogoeng as the new chief justice on September 8, amid concerns raised by the legal fraternity over his inexperience and controversial judgments he handed down in the past.

Moseneke had been seen by a number of legal bars and judges as a favourite for the chief justice post.

Arms deal probe 'a tactical manoeuvre'

Kane-Berman said Zuma's decision to appoint a commission to investigate the multi-billion rand arms deal could also be a simple "tactical manoeuvre" by Zuma to avoid answering to the Constitutional Court.

"The question is whether President Zuma's promise of commission of inquiry into the arms deal is the start of a serious investigation, or is it simply a tactical manoeuvre to avoid being ordered to do that by Constitutional Court," he said.

Kane-Berman said the ANC's clampdown on the press was entirely predictable. Many journalists and "a number of foreign governments" had been surprised by the ANC's attempts to clamp down on the press, he said.

Within the context of the party's National Democratic Revolution philosophy however, a clampdown on the media was "entirely predictable".

"How could a liberal organisation do such a thing. Well, in the context of the NDR, the clampdown on the press is entirely predictable."

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