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DA: Reduce political influence in JSC

2013-06-30 21:55

Johannesburg - Politicians' influence in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) must be reduced, the DA said on Sunday.

"The political influence in the JSC is widely considered to be too great. It is considered to be too great also by the [National Development Plan (NDP)]," said Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts.

"The NDP is now Cabinet policy. It has the support of the official opposition. That means that two thirds of National Assembly would be available to vote for the change to the Constitution," she said. Smuts has gazetted a Private Member's Bill in which she proposed changes to Section 178 of the Constitution, which deals with the JSC.

She proposed that there should be more judges and lawyers on the JSC relative to the number of politicians.

Smuts said during the selection process, there were "many" instances where the choice of a given judge was a foregone conclusion, and therefore the process was rendered meaningless.

She said in other instances a candidate who everybody considered to be chosen was not selected because of political influence.

Smuts proposed in her bill that all judges be South African.

The president chooses Constitutional Court judges from a list of nominees prepared by the JSC, which must include three names more than the number of places to be filled.

He also appoints the chief justice, deputy chief justice, president of the Supreme Court of Appeal and deputy president, after consultation.

Smuts described the four presidential representatives as "superfluous".

She said the NDP stipulated that the JSC was argued to be too large to function effectively and to be hamstrung by political interest.

The bill is open for public comments over a period of 40 days.

After comments have been received, the bill will be introduced to Parliament for the legislative process to start.