‘Interfering judiciary’: Thandi Modise takes separation of powers issues to the Constitutional Court

2015-07-07 12:07
Thandi Modise

Thandi Modise

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Cape Town - The courts came under fire again for “interfering” – this time in Parliament. 

Thandi Modise, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, is taking up an earlier Western Cape High Court ruling that set aside her ruling she made in Parliament last year against the Economic Freedom Fighters on the Marikana issue. 

The case refers to an incident when EFF leader Julius Malema accused President Jacob Zuma and the Cabinet of murder when 34 people died during the Marikana massacre. 

Modise asked in her application to the Constitutional Court that the court should, inter alia, give clarity on the extent to which courts may interfere in decisions of presiding officers in Parliament. 

She called the high court decision against her “the best example of inappropriate judicial interference in the way Parliament conducts its business”. 

In the court documents, Modise said: “There is concern that the courts have overstepped the limits of their oversight responsibility in respect of the internal workings of the houses of Parliament and have acted contrary to the tenets of the separation of powers doctrine.” 

According to Modise there was no sufficient cause for this “encroachment” of the courts on the domain of Parliament. 

She added that Parliament was at a crossroads and this was largely because presiding officers’ authority was continuously challenged during sessions and rulings have led to mass walkouts by opposition parties. 

Modise said the incidents had ended up in court several times and this had placed the issue of separation of powers in the spotlight. 

On Malema’s statements, she said: “It is hard to imagine a more serious attack upon the president and other members of the Cabinet than to accuse them of murder. A remark of this nature clearly conveys to others that the members of Cabinet are unscrupulous people capable of killing others and that they do not have strong moral principles”. 

With this, Modise joins a growing number of voices within the ruling party who have spoken out on “interference from the courts”. 

Last week, the ANC’s national executive committee also railed against the judiciary and in a statement expressed concern at the “emerging trend, in some quarters, of judicial overreach and thus bringing into question the very fundamental principle of separation of powers on which our democracy rests”. 

“There are already commonly expressed concerns that the judgments of certain regions and judges are consistently against the state, which creates an impression of negative bias,” the statement read.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  thandi modise  |  parliament 2015  |  judiciary  |  politics

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