Courts can't be superior, Zuma says

2011-11-01 20:01

Cape Town - The powers conferred on the courts cannot be regarded as superior to the powers resulting from a mandate given by the people in a popular vote, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

It was necessary to distinguish the areas of responsibility between the judiciary and the elected branches of the state, he told a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The special sitting was called to bid farewell to former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, and to welcome Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

"In paying tribute to our former and current chief justice, we reiterate our firm belief in the principles of the rule of law, the separation of powers, and judicial independence," Zuma said.

"Having said that, we also wish to reiterate our view that there is a need to distinguish the areas of responsibility, between the judiciary and the elected branches of the state, especially with regards to policy formulation."

The executive, as elected officials, had the sole discretion to decide policies for government, he said.

The principle of separation of powers meant the encroachment of one arm of the state on the terrain of another should be discouraged, and there should be no bias in this regard.

"We respect the powers and role conferred by our Constitution on the legislature and the judiciary," Zuma said.

"At the same time, we expect the same from these very important institutions of our democratic dispensation."

The executive should be allowed to conduct its administration and policy-making work as freely as it possibly could.

The powers conferred on the courts could not be regarded as superior to the powers resulting from a mandate given by the people in a popular vote, Zuma said.

To provide support to the judiciary and free the courts to do their work, it would help "if political disputes were resolved politically".

"We must not get a sense that there are those who wish to co-govern the country through the courts, when they have not won the popular vote during elections," Zuma said.

"This interferes with the independence of the judiciary."

Allegiance to the Constitution

Speaking towards the close of the sitting, Ngcobo said no branch of government was superior to others in the service of the Constitution.

The Constitution was a "promissory note", he said.

"It is a promise of a new society that is based on democratic values, social justice, and fundamental human rights."

The people of South Africa had entrusted the responsibility to establish this society to the three branches of government.

Each branch of government thus had to observe the constitutional limits on its powers and authority.

"There is no branch that is superior to others in the service of the Constitutional mission of the Republic," Ngcobo said, be it the judiciary, the legislature, or the executive.

In addition to ensuring they observed the constitutional limits on their powers and authority, government should seek to maintain public confidence.

In the case of the judiciary that confidence was not earned by virtue of a court being pro or anti the executive, he said.

The court did not earn the public's confidence merely by overturning legislative Acts on review or by consistently upholding them.

"It is earned by the judiciary demonstrating through its conduct and the well-reasoned judgments it produces that it holds the scales of justice evenly," Ngcobo said.

"Public confidence is earned when the judiciary demonstrates in the words of the Constitution that it is independent subject to the Constitution and the law, which it must apply impartially and without fear, favour, or prejudice."

After all, judges owed allegiance to nothing except the Constitution and the law.

"The judicial branch of government will only have the confidence of the people itself if it is truly independent," Ngcobo said.

  • Gammat - 2011-11-01 20:11

    The courts should be the highest authority.

      mpiyakhe.dhlamini - 2011-11-01 20:32

      then you risk a situation where the courts are not accountable for the decisions they make and thus control the executive and legislature who are both accountable to the judiciary.the principle should be absolute independence of the judiciary but it must be able to account for every ruling in terms of the constitution which is the highest authority,the courts are the final arbitrators.democracy is built on the principle that the 3 spheres check the power of each other with no sphere being unaccountable

      John - 2011-11-01 20:50

      Zuma's CRIMINAL mentality is SHOWING!

      John - 2011-11-01 20:55

      Say NO to Stalin, Say NO to Lennin, Say NO to Mao Tse Tung. They destroyed Russia and China. Say NO to the ANC, Say NO to Zuma. They want to destroy SOUTH AFRICA.

      rowen.loretz - 2011-11-01 21:11

      @ McPhearson. How much wealth have you got?

      Servaas - 2011-11-01 21:17

      @Mcpherson: Do you not get sick of pasting the same BS day in and out you silly little toyi-toying excuse of a racist? Are you stuck on stupid you clown?!! I wish I could get my hands on you for just 2 minutes!! NEWS24: Can you check and block the IP or MAC ADDRESS instead of just blocking the damn user! Then this bs will not get pasted week in and out under a different username! It's not rocket science you know!

      Rob - 2011-11-01 21:24

      @mpiyakhe.dhlamini - Don't know why you are getting any thumbs down because what you say is 100% correct.

      Atholl - 2011-11-01 21:24

      McPhearson - at last, I found u, u must be the brother or sister of 'underpriveledged' ... let me repeat : Robert Jensen (a white man) was my uncle's, aunty's father's, son. .... just before he died ... he said : {quote} I failed at maths and science so I tried philosophy. ... and that was a failure too .. tell all my students to burn my work, it's all a fabrication, tell them that if they believe my work then they will be stranded on a narrow road that leads to the wrong destination ... ... they will all be doomed ... {/unquote}

      rowen.loretz - 2011-11-01 21:27

      @ McPhearson. Why don't you immigrate to Zim. Everything there has been given back to the racists there. Enjoy ... and don't come back!!!!!!

      Rob - 2011-11-01 21:31

      @McPhearson - Let stick to the topic, we all have a lot to say but lets debate these things when the oportunity arises, if you want to make your point it would be best advised to do so in a relevant manner. You do make valid points but, as you may have noticed, the way you are conducting yourself is not working in your favour.

      rowen.loretz - 2011-11-01 21:36

      Zuma with his pathetic mentality...seriously. I don't know what is wrong with him. Does he have bi-polar or is he just losing his marbles. One day he says something good...get's some corrupt ministers fired. The next day he is coming up with this kind of bull. He needs to go. We need a competent president , not a douchebag. I see no in a news24 article he can't even remember when that oke spilt a drink on him last year...seriously. Hope he FIRES himself by accident...

      John - 2011-11-01 21:38

      1 insistence by ANC to imprison journalists exposing corruption. 2 snubbing of Moseneke for chief justiceship. 3 willing buyer, seller principle should not be allowed to slow land redistribution. Zuma misunderstood importance of independent judiciary in constitutional separation of powers? free press not vital to democracy? Game plan? in 1969, at Morogoro, ANC adopted a "national democratic revolution" as its overriding strategic goal. NDR based on Lenin’s theory of imperialism, adapted for SA as a "colony of a special type" because whites are indigenous. They are viewed as the imperial powers and blacks as the colonised victims. This means white wealth is seen as illegal. Kader Asmal said before his death it was time to abandon NDR, there is no sign it has. ANC reaffirmed its commitment to NDR in various "strategy and tactics" documents in 1997 2002 2007. Key economic components: redistribution of wealth, income, and land. Political aspects: affirmative action to make all centres of power demographically representative, cadre deployment to take control of all centres of power, and winning the battle of ideas to counter both "neoliberalism" and "ultraleftism". potentially adverse forces: free press that can challenge corruption and give "neoliberal" ideas, an independent judiciary and a constitution that guarantees property rights. "transformation" of the judiciary means it will do its duty for the NDR. If not, the constitution will be revisited. Short from Kane-Berman

      John - 2011-11-01 21:47

      McPhearson: When the white man sailed by Africa 500 years ago the differential between white wealth was even bigger. When the white man settled in South Africa the differential was even bigger. The oppressed and exploited black man improved is lot under white rule. Best wages and working conditions in Africa. Even now rubbish collectors in Cape Town strike at R4200.00 per month. In India they get 100 rupees a day, even with 6 day week 2400 RUPEES per month. Rands 500? Even LESS in China. Please go to the gulag in Siberia and don't come back. Why do you think there are over 30 Million Africans under white rule in Europe NOW?

      Luke300 - 2011-11-01 21:58

      The people elected by popualr vote need to rule according to the Constitution. It is the responsibility of the court to ensure this. Instead, the elected by popular vote with some of them not even seeing their final school year want to govern the judiciary made up of individuals with extremely high qualifications? You cannot reason with those that do no want to see

      Darryl - 2011-11-01 22:23

      @servaas: Not that easy I'm afraid, it actually IS a bit of rocket science. IP addresses aren't generally static in SA, in other words the same user will not have the same IP address assigned to them every time they log onto the Internet. Therefore blocking the IP address would only work until the user disconnects and reconnects, and then some other unlucky user would find themselves blocked when they get assigned that address. The MAC address is pretty unique and is a hardware address, so theoretically would be a better bet, but generally it isn't transmitted over the Internet and is only available on the the LAN (Local Area Network - like an office or home network) the machine is connected to, using the ARP (Address Resolution Protocol), and even then usually only up to the first piece of hardware (like a local router, switch at an ISP etc) it communicates to. So unfortunately there isn't much News24 can do about abusive users except keep banning the users they create.

  • Anthony - 2011-11-01 20:24

    Why, what do you want to steal?

  • Kevin - 2011-11-01 20:24

    The courts are a constant sanity. If people power is to rule then we are buggered as the people who have spoken are twits and have elected twits so twit decisions are made. What then

      Osman Bux - 2011-11-01 20:48


  • Saksak - 2011-11-01 20:28

    Then the courts might as well run the country. Courts are just there to adjudicate differences between people, organisations and the law. If there were no differences, there would be no courts

      Carlos - 2011-11-01 20:48

      Courts are there to protect people, Zuma's statements are idiotic! This is what happens when you put an uneducated man in such a responsible job, "obvias" he is feeling a little insecure, what with this "Arms investigation" coming about again, he is just preparing us for when he is shown to be dirty again, he's in charge so nothing can happen to him??? in a democracy the courts are there to protect us, even from government, otherwise it will like another familiar dictatorship, were the idiot Pres.tells the courts how things should turn out.

      Atholl - 2011-11-01 21:14

      If there was no Constitution then there would be: ... no Parliament, No President, no Govt, no Police, no Free Speech, no right to protest, no free religion, no education, no property rights, no right to strike .... the Constitution is supreme ... everyone must make all decisions that comply with the Constitution .. even judges .. It regulates the conduct of govt, parliament, Mr businessman, mr trade union, mr educator, mr free religion, mr free speech, mr farmer, mr unemployed ... ... and of course ... .... mr "Accused" who has the right to be [presumed] innocent until proven guilty. There is nothing popular or unpopular .. ... it's a case of convenience ... The Constitution applies when it's [convenient] and when it is [inconvenient] .... would a [popular] 'policy' to abolish the [inconvenient] right to strike ... ...... or say a 'popular' policy to abolish Buddhism or Christianity or '''-sexuality be expected to be approved by 'popular' law. .... or would a 'popular' policy to seize property be expected to be passed or ... ... the 'popular' policy to suppress [inconvenient] freedom of speech (secrecy) be expected to pass ?

  • Mya - 2011-11-01 20:28

    So let me get this straight, he doesn't have the authority in decisions regarding spending millions and millions upgrading his residences, but he has the authority over all courts? Imagine living in an ideal Zuma world...

  • Carlin - 2011-11-01 20:28

    Well, Mogoeng, there you have it. The boss has spelled out what he wants. He expects you not to interfere (or play along?). The "popular vote" is his highest ideal. He is thus subject to the whims of the electorate, which are notoriously fickle and subject to manipulation. The mob has an IQ/EQ lower than that of a five year old. Judges and lawyers cannot be held ransom to popular opinion. King Mob has been proven to be a bad ruler. The boss is ruled by King Mob. It follows that Judges cannot submit to the boss. Governments come and go. The courts do not. If the ANC are convinced that they will rule till the second coming and the christians are convinced the second coming is imminent the ANC won't be around long. Hitler's thousand year reich lasted a paltry 12 years. Given a choice I'm with the Judges. The politicians are just passing through. Food for thought Mogoeng?

      Jeff - 2011-11-01 20:34

      South Africa is a genuine failed communist state.

  • braamc - 2011-11-01 20:38

    He probably meant that he and his thieving criminal buddies in the ANC is above the law

  • Ryan - 2011-11-01 20:46

    is this not how its done in other Western and first world countries ??? what is he so worried about

      Jerhone - 2011-11-24 14:24

      it is to hide corruption, and minipulate the concourt before his big farce arms deal trail comes up, he already has his head snake in charge of the concourt, this is going to be another big waste of tax money they think we are bobjaane like them

  • Andrew - 2011-11-01 20:51

    What about the death sentence????

      McPhearson - 2011-11-01 21:54

      What about racial justice and equality instead of a biased TRC and extreme racial inequity?

  • Judith - 2011-11-01 21:03

    The courts uphold the constitution so they moderate government and are the highest authority. Our judges are independent of politics as they should be

  • Piet - 2011-11-01 21:09

    Who has misused(abused)the legal system or has intimidted the courts by singing machine gun songs or held political speaches outside them other than Zuma and Malema.

  • desmond.nair - 2011-11-01 21:12

    Utter rubbish!

  • Andre - 2011-11-01 21:33

    As soon as government starts to challenge the judiciary we are on the slippery slope heading to a failed state. South Africa truly has one of the best constitutions and the bill of rights that is enshrined in the constitution promises a future for ALL South Africans. It is in our best interest to make sure that no one, not even our liberators interfere with the rule of law.

  • Harold - 2011-11-01 21:34

    Hmmmm preparing for the arms deal probe are we?

  • Cracker - 2011-11-01 21:37

    Can we get examples of where the courts have overstepped by their determining of policy. We MUST be given examples. We will then known what exactly is being said to us. Many of us would be surprised if examples can be supplied of a so-called popular mandate (the language of JZ) to change the freedoms and rights of peoples of this country. Please, people must practise the habit of questioning every concept and assertion plus the possible motive for it. You will be surprised at the BS that's going on. But practise and practise the habit. See first hand and experience the exhilaration when you start managing to see straight through BS. It is a matter of practice. We need it urgently in this country. We are talking about freedoms and decent administrative action that are under attack. Remove the freedoms and decency by using the false guise of so-called popular vote and we all lose. People vote for political parties for many different reasons but definitely not to throw away our democracy and freedoms. And on and on and on.... Common sense sometimes don't require elaborate explanations. What country do we want to live in? One in which we prefer the courts - hopefully manned by independent legal minds - to finally determine our living space and freedoms or one in which individual politicians try to tell us what we are entitled to in terms of.... Fill in rest.

      jody.beggs - 2011-11-24 13:29

      Thanks cracker. Damn the cANCer , save The Constitution .

  • Mike - 2011-11-01 22:02

    @John I also read Kane-Berman, great analyst, Zuma just dropped his pants on the constitution, it's the worst speech I have ever heard yet in our political discourse. This is a dangerous threat to all democratic people in SA, defcon 1!!!!!!!!

      jody.beggs - 2011-11-24 13:30

      And the general public is already disarmed ! Who's going to save us !?

  • Sandy - 2011-11-01 22:32

    Shove it Kangaman ,, the courts are there to ensure fairness ,, you have used the courts ( of course with slick unprincipled lawyers paid by our tax rand to get you off a string of crimes ) so dont now say the courts dont count ... a%%%% hole . and yes your criminal mentality is showing through badly .. look at how corruption has grown in your tenure ,, its just seen how much you have got away with and they all just follow into the ever increasing gravy train ,,, hang your head in shame kangaman,, you are a failure of proportion ....

  • Zebelon - 2011-11-01 22:47

    Read the Constitution, Mr President. Any parliamentary enactment that foolishly goes against the Constitution of the land, or any conduct of the ruling ANC that is an infringement of the law will surely be dictated to by the courts, notwithstanding any amount of protestation from you.

  • Chabi - 2011-11-01 23:10

    Do not allow a situation where Laws are passed in Courts !! These losers aware of their inability to come up with majority votes in elections will want to overthrow this Government by stalling the revolutionary programme through you Chief Justice Mogoeng, we have a transformation agent not a "black man", serve us well.

      jody.beggs - 2011-11-24 13:34

      @Chabi, your sir are a sheep ! This is what you chief justice stands for ? If your daughter is raped do want the chief justice to let them out early to do it again ? Damn the Chief Justice , save Our Children from Rapists , not help the rapists !?!

      Jeremy - 2012-03-17 09:29

      And so you show your true revolutionary colours. Infiltrate, disseminate, amalgamate so as to remove any obstacle to the UNPUBLISHED AGENDA of the ANC. The words of your election mandate and your actual agenda are at loggerheads. Time will prove you to be seen as what you are. Exactly the same as the AWB, NAZI party, Nat party. Out for yourselves, using the general population to get it. If you manage to sustain your stranglehold you will become absolutely despotic. SHAME ON YOU.

      Jeremy - 2012-03-17 09:32

      Of course laws must be passed by the courts. If not any unjust law will be passed and affect the electorate who will not have been aware of the intrusion on their lives. If you really want to live in an autocratic state go and try North Korea, You sound like you might enjoy Not being able to comment as you please.

  • Willem - 2011-11-02 08:47

    Yesterday the man was worried about the public execution of Gaddafi and today he does what Gaddafi did to his people, becoming the law. Is the king bigger that the law? It would be interesting to see what South Africans think because I find this is becoming more and more apperent that some member of our nation seems to think that the king is above the law. For instance the Chairman is the boss and can do what he likes.

  • - 2011-11-02 09:44

    And so we move one step closer to an authoritarian one-party state ...

  • jon.poole2 - 2011-11-02 21:28

    "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny."- James Fenimore Cooper.

  • Anthony - 2011-11-24 13:22

    Maybe the people of South Africa should take a leaf out of the Egyption book ,If the ANC what's a revaluation then if they are not careful it is exactly what they will get .

      jody.beggs - 2011-11-24 13:36

      @Anthony , where do we sign up ? Damn the cANCer , save Democracy !

  • Sean - 2011-11-25 12:30

    We cannot HAVE the decisions of the courts interfering with policy ???? - POLICY AFTER ALL IS TO STEAL AS MUCH AS WE CAN AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN - we definitely don't want to run the risk of being investigated and god forbid prosecuted!!

  • guy.goes1 - 2012-03-15 11:21

    politicians come and go but the one true anchor to hold ship SA in place is our constitution. We can never allow political individuals have the final say according to their vieuws at the time. Concourt judges are all far better educated and experienced in the law than any politician will ever be. interestingly most journalists are generally better in tune and have more indepth knowledge about subjects they intervieuw cadres about[ re: fisher]One just need to read chris Barron intervieuws with the various top ANC rankers to realise how paper thin their understanding and commitment to south africa's wellbeing they really are.

  • Jeremy - 2012-03-17 09:23

    So what our illustrious President is saying is that, like Hitler, if he and his party wish to do something, like say confiscate property, then the Concourt must keep out of it because they were given a mandate to do whatever they please!? Get real you facist. That is why there is separation of power. to STOP your government from legalising your criminal behaviour.

  • Kevin Daniels - 2013-10-15 07:00

    To use this as a platform to slate the DA is inexcusable. To think that an illiterate has so much of power is really scary. How much more stupid were the people that put him there?

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