ANC 'perplexed' by ConCourt challenge

2011-07-29 21:11

Johannesburg - The ANC is "perplexed" that President Jacob Zuma's decision to extend the term of outgoing Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo was challenged in court when the terms of two previous chief justices were extended using the same law, it said on Friday.

"What surprises us most is that nobody... raised any finger or any objections when the same piece of legislation was applied in the past," ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

He referred specifically to the Justice Alliance of SA, Freedom Under Law NPC, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) at the University of the Witwatersrand and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

"The question we ask is that despite individuals currently heading the same organisations were present when the same law was used in the past, no court challenges were lodged. What has now changed? Why was this piece of legislation not challenged at the time?"

In a judgment handed down on Friday, the Constitutional Court found unconstitutional Section Eight (a) of the Judges Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, under which Zuma extended Ngcobo's term.

Mthembu said the terms of former chief justices Arthur Chaskalson and Pius Langa had been extended in terms of "the law". Only when this was done by Zuma was it challenged in court.

Deliberately misleading

However, Cals director Raylene Keighley said the ANC was "deliberately misleading" the public. She said that although the same act was used, a different section was applied.

While Zuma used Section Eight (a) of the act, Section Four was used to extend Chaskalson and Langa's terms.

Section Four did not require "presidential discretion", said Keighley.

"This is the first time that Section Eight (a) has been used by the president," the Constitutional Court said in its judgment.

Writing in his blog Constitutionally Speaking, legal expert Pierre de Vos said the argument that Chaskalson and Langa's terms were similarly extended was "utter nonsense".

"The statement from the office of the chief whip seems to confuse Section Four of the act with Section Eight (a) of the act.

"Section Four states that a judge who has never served on any other court or has served less than three years on another court, will be allowed to serve as a judge for 15 years altogether.

"Thus, Justice Chaskalson and Langa could serve for longer than 12 years as they had not served as judges in any other court before appointment to the Constitutional Court."

De Vos said Section Four dealt with judges generally and not with only the chief justice.

Section Four did not delegate the power to extend the term of office of any judge to the president.

It regulated, in an automatic way, the terms of office of Constitutional Court judges, who would serve 15 years if they had not served as judges before, regardless of whether anyone in Parliament or the executive wanted them to, he said.

No illegal action

Mthembu said the ANC "unconditionally" accepted the Constitutional Court judgment.

"Contrary to views held by individuals and some organisations that brought the challenge before the Constitutional Court, we remain convinced that the extension of Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo's term of office by the President of the Republic of South Africa, was both constitutional and within the ambit of the law.

"It should also be said that this judgment does not imply any illegal action on the part of the President of the Republic of South Africa on the matter."

Earlier this year, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe advised Zuma that Ngcobo's seven-year term of office as a judge would end at midnight on August 14, when he would have to leave his position.

His options were to extend Ngcobo's term, or to appoint another chief justice.

Zuma wrote to Ngcobo and asked him to stay on for another five years. On June 2, Ngcobo agreed.

It was announced on Wednesday that Ngcobo had decided to withdraw his acceptance of the extension, which left the post of chief justice open from August 15, should a replacement not be found by then.

Ngcobo took the decision to "to protect the integrity of the office of the chief justice and the esteem of the judiciary as a whole".

The African Christian Democratic Party welcomed the judgment, but said it was regrettable that South Africa had lost Ngcobo as a result of the court challenge.

  • pierre.hough1 - 2011-07-29 21:17

    You can change the people but you can't change the Constitution. And of course, times change ...

      Fred - 2011-07-29 22:32

      You are right. The constitution is meant to be sacrosanct. But what's the bet the ANC will try and change it soon. The only reason they are "perplexed" is that they think they are above the law, and that no-one will ever challenge what they do.

      Frungy - 2011-07-30 03:04

      @pierre - You're wrong, the ANC has a sufficiently large majority to change the constitution any time they like without any support from other parties. ... and they will the moment they realise they're about to be booted out of power like the corrupt slackers they are.

      Sheda Hab - 2011-07-30 12:10

      No one complained before.......... Listen WE are not your voters. Your voters keep voting for you again and again. They never complained before so they continue voting for you again and again. WE do something when enough is enuf......

  • Sir Eidolon - 2011-07-29 21:21

    The noble thing would have been to just accept the judgement, but unfortunately we're dealing with the ANC here...

  • Francois - 2011-07-29 21:21

    Now let us assume for one moment that the previous two occasions have been wrong, but it slipped through. This does not mean we can let it continue, because it was allowed to continue wrongly in the past. If that argument is used, we should still have apartheid, Nazism, racial segregation etc. If Zuma did not want his presidency to be under the magnifying glass of the law an ethics, he should have been crystal clean to start off with, but he was not. He needed a political solution to get him there in the first place. Janeekop, what goes around, comes around. Time to stand up and face the music, that is if you got the balls for it.

  • Creeky - 2011-07-29 21:23

    Chaskalson and Pius Langa's terms were NOT EXTENDED by the SAME LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is a BLATANT LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go do the homework and report back to the South African PUBLIC, and tell them the TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeff RADEBE SUCKS THINGS OUT HIS AR5E!!!!!!!!

      Sir Eidolon - 2011-07-29 21:34

      Too much booze at the taxpayer's expense. The ANC has so many spokespersons, it doesn't have a clue from which orifice the next embarrassment will emanate.

  • Freddie - 2011-07-29 21:39

    The ANC is deliberately being misleading. This is not the same as the previous two extensions. The major difference between then and now is the inability of the current 'executive' to understand and adhere to the constitution. They prefer to make things up as they go along.

  • braveinternetguy - 2011-07-29 21:40

    "It was announced on Wednesday that Ngcobo had decided to withdraw his acceptance of the extension..."to protect the integrity of the office of the chief justice and the esteem of the judiciary as a whole"." Judge Ngcobo appears to be quite the noble gentleman.

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-07-30 00:37

      Ngcobo was a superb Chief Justice and is a real loss. It does not however mean that the constitution should be subverted. Once the thin end of the wedge is in place then it all splits apart. Ou Jackson and certain sections of government seem to think that the rules can be made up as they go along. I suggest that they look up the meaning of the word ANARCHY.

  • Spade - 2011-07-29 21:48

    It would seem the ANC are somewhat confused at the moment. They "unconditionally" accept the court's ruling, but effectively challenge the court's impartiality by being "perplexed" at the ruling. I can understand their confusion though; it would seem "Rule of Law" is something foreign to the ANC right now. Our beloved President escaped the law in seemingly underhanded ways not so long ago, while helping his criminal buddies out at the same time. Then there is the little matter of sweet little Malema and his dodgy trust fund.

      OZNOB - 2011-07-29 22:07

      unfortunately if you have a theoretical knowledge of the law and no practical knowledge of the law then you have no understanding of how to apply the law. as the anc appear to have neither it is obvious why they are confused

      Paul - 2011-07-30 15:55

      @ Spade ANC....UNCONDITIONALLY PERPLEXED sounds about right

  • Gargmel - 2011-07-29 21:48

    It is the ANC, they are perplexed by the simplest things.

      Megan - 2011-07-30 08:27

      Far too many syllables where used in the act, and the judge passing down the ruling used big words....No wonder the anc was perplexed, lets face it, there are no pills for stupidity

  • valleyman - 2011-07-29 21:56

    Perplexed? Hmmm, now why am I not surprised? Given their tenuous grasp of things like economics, their dodgy grasp of constitutional law is hardly surprising...

  • Joe_Dirt - 2011-07-29 21:57

    Stuff like this will happen if the ANC keep shuffling ministers around who has no experience or expertise in a certain field. Jeff Radebbe was Minister - Department of Transport(2004 - 2009); Minister - Department of Public Enterprises(1999 - 2004); Minister - Department of Public Work (1994 - 1999). The ANC think that any struggle hero can just be put into a position and presto, job done

      Naomi Vermaak - 2011-07-30 09:24

      To have all 'these qualifications' & 'experience' in one person.... EISH Jeff Radebbe you deserve Zuma's & Malema's positions combined at the same time!!! ANC & ANCYL enough is enough... we taking control of our country as you have continued to lie to us for our votes & steal from us...!!!

  • Proudly SA - 2011-07-29 22:01

    Compltetely inexcusable conduct by Radebe and Mr Zuma and disgraceful response by Mthembu; ANC was advised by many bodies and opposition parties of incorrectness of its moves. Shameful that RSA relies on opposition parties to uphold constitution.

  • jjacgilbert - 2011-07-29 22:23

    I am perplexed about my cut lip, but on the other hand I was looking for it. Will not report it to SAPS. (South African Police Sleeping) Sorry, only a sick joke.

  • THE.SRG - 2011-07-29 22:35

    The anc get perplexed by a peanut behind a glass window they cant reach....they are perplexed by the simplest of problems

  • cgtours - 2011-07-29 22:51


      ihtfcatkii - 2011-07-29 23:00

      DuDe!1!1! CAPS?!?!?!? Really?

  • Isaac - 2011-07-30 08:22

    The punishment of those who are to wise to be involved in politics ,is that they will be gorvened by fools.

  • umhlopo - 2011-07-30 10:00

    The anc tried to pull a fast one and got caught out,now in the typical african way they come with the usual eish,yo yo,mamawe,i deednt know it not fair.These clowns make me sick to my stomach

  • Michael - 2011-08-18 17:32

    this is not the only time the ANC is perplexed. The ANC is perplexed all the time.

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