Radebe: ConCourt's independence safe

2012-02-28 16:34

Cape - The government will commission a study of how Constitutional Court rulings have impacted on the law, the state and the lives of citizens, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes in the wake of a remark by President Jacob Zuma earlier this month that the government wanted to review the court's powers.

However, Radebe downplayed the remarks and said the project was not aimed at curtailing the court's powers, but formed part of overall efforts to transform the judiciary.

"The independence of the judiciary is not at stake."

Radebe said the study on the Constitutional Court would be undertaken by research institutions, but the project should deliver "implementable rather than academic solutions to problems that risked undermining transformation".

Apart from the Constitutional Court assessments, Cabinet had also agreed to establish a mechanism to monitor the way in which government departments implemented court decisions.

It also wanted to create a forum for regular discussions between the judiciary, the executive and the legislative on how they could pursue "a common transformative goal".

"These recommendations, including the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, are with a view to developing clear and concise recommendations that are necessary to unlock challenges that have the potential to undermine the transformation goals that are intended to nourish our constitutional democracy," the minister said.

Asked what these challenges were, Radebe said: "All of us are geared towards creating a better life for all South Africans, so all branches of the state have to play a role in this endeavour."

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said Radebe's announcement had shed little light on what the government wanted to achieve by analysing the work of the Constitutional Court.

"It does not actually say what the review is for. It is very vague."

Zuma told The Star newspaper in an interview this month: "We don’t want to review the Constitutional Court; we want to review its powers."

Asked to explain the president's remarks, Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel cautioned against stifling debate on the Constitutional Court.

He went on to suggest that Zuma's call for a review should be seen in the context of the Constitution 17th amendment bill - which would enhance the Constitutional Court's powers by making it the apex court on all matters.

The bill is currently being debated by Parliament's portfolio committee on justice.

But the Democratic Alliance said Radebe's announcement confirmed its fears that the "government may be attempting to co-opt the courts".

"The extent to which the court's decisions are implemented by government comes as an afterthought instead of being the primary focus of any study," DA justice spokesperson Dene Smuts said.

"As always the plight of the poor is partially used as the rationale for the exercise."

  • Justice - 2012-02-28 17:09

    "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others."

      Adam - 2012-02-28 17:22

      You are so right Justice, but be the master of your own fate and vote with your head.

  • Adam - 2012-02-28 17:10

    This sounds fishy to me. This isnt quatro, where anc can hand out justice. Rather spend the (our) money on education. Start by going to school yourself.

  • Sharon - 2012-02-28 17:11

    Sounds like famous last words - This won't hurt at all....

  • david.lebethe - 2012-02-28 17:13

    I am in favour of the independence of the judiciary but of late, that institution carries itself as if it is infallible. I have no track for the Anc government, but some of its decisions have encroached the divided line and wonder where it the court or government that runs the country? It is this holier-than-though approach, which contribute to disorderliness and disrespect for authority and in the process fuels polarisation in the country. In the main is that the judges read to much into the constitution hence there are conflicting judgments at times.

      timothy.spring - 2012-02-29 10:42

      The constitution is the final authority; without it, we are at the mercy of the executive. The executive MUST NOT be allowed to act with impunity - the constitution protects the rights of all our citizens. What "conflicting" judgments? You mean, minority opinions, I guess, since the constitutional court cannot be deadlocked. The fact that there are minority opinions is GOOD as it indicates that a diverse range of legal minds and philosophies have been drawn together to judge the matter. Further, the constitutional court cannot, by itself, do anything - matters must be brought TO the court by third parties, only then can they get involved. What you are proposing is that there be no mechanism for citizens to establish and guarantee their own rights in the face of executive whim, only slavish devotion to authority.

  • Den - 2012-02-28 17:14

    transform it into what? makes no sense, all smoke and screens rubbish.

      Pieter - 2012-02-28 18:21

      From functioning to non-functioning

  • Hugh - 2012-02-28 17:22

    This call for transformation is never explained in detail. Alway a hairy Fiary explanation with no real direction. What does TRANSFORMATION mean. The so called transformation of the courts, education, health, police, Army, Airforce, Navy etc has not improved anything. In fact the reverse. So Radebe tell us unambiguoisly what this new round of transformation is really about and is the money being well spent with an unbias opinion?

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-02-28 17:28

    The mere fact that the government seems to think it can change the ConCourt simply shows their arrogance. It should be UNTOUCHABLE.

  • Heiku - 2012-02-28 17:40

    These guys need to explain what exactly transformation means.

  • Gaby - 2012-02-28 17:43

    Transformation means replacing the white racist judges with black racist judges. On the other hand, maybe goverment ministers are just getting tired of spending months passing laws that are then found to be unconstitutional...

  • Jadon - 2012-02-28 18:23

    "These recommendations, including the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, are with a view to developing clear and concise recommendations that are necessary to unlock challenges that have the potential to undermine the transformation goals that are intended to nourish our constitutional democracy," the minister said. The "unlocking of the challenges" is sinister. The right to own property. The right to own a business and choose who you want as a partner. Both are "challenges" as far as these dunderheads are concerned. Soon the weasel will be out of the sack and their true colours will be seen by all. Some of the populace will rejoice. This number will determine the fate of this country.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-02-28 19:07

    The Constitution is the guarantee of our Freedom. The guardians of the Constitution should not allow themselves to be tainted and polluted by the decadence of the ANC.

  • Atholl - 2012-02-29 08:09

    SA Constitution : Section 165 (3) ::} 'No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the courts.' The Constitution is not a game.

      Arthur - 2012-03-01 17:03

      Did you not know that the Constitution and Laws of our country does not apply to the ANC top brass!!!!

  • frank.hartry - 2012-02-29 09:41

    South Africans should perhaps realise that the whole purpose of the ANC led government under Zuma is the protection of Zuma and ensuring that he never stands trial for his corruption charges. South Africans have surely noticed that all of these changes have come about since Zuma came to power almost two years ago. What was wrong with the with the constitutional court when Mandela and Mbeki were in power? How come also they did not try to interfere with the media? The ANC led government is running this country like the wild west and the baddie cowboys are in charge. All appointments also are being made with one thing in mind, to save the allegedly crooked corrupt man Zuma.

  • timothy.spring - 2012-02-29 10:38

    This is some scary stuff, right here.

  • Phillys - 2012-02-29 12:10

    I watched this overweight puffy radebe weezing out his view of things last night on E News, and nobody really understood what he was saying!!!The "Black lawyers association" rep agreed with radebe(unsurprisingly) but if you asked him if he understood anything, the answer would be no!!! Eusebius McKaiser was clearly the only one in the studio with a brain and was puzzled and amused at radebe's ramblings

  • Arthur - 2012-03-01 16:59

    Transformation with Nepotism ?????

  • Sariena - 2012-03-02 09:07

    We all know the Anc just want a foot in the door here.They are a bunch of liars for 18 years now.Zuma should look at the poor and the needy and leave the law alone.They have big plans again....

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