See Zuma comments in context - presidency

2012-02-13 20:45

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma's comments on the Constitutional Court's powers must be viewed in the context of a decision the Cabinet took last year, the presidency said on Monday.

It said the decision was to do an assessment on the impact of Constitutional Court judgments on the transformation of South Africa's society since it had gained democracy.

"The exercise is with a view to assess the transformative nature of jurisprudence from the highest court in the land in promoting an equal, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society," said the presidency.

"This must therefore not be viewed as an attempt by government to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law which are entrenched in our Constitution."

It said the assessment fell within the mandate of formulating and reviewing government policies to advance the transformative character of the Constitution.

"This is a positive move that ought to be welcomed by all who look up to the Constitutional Court as the champion of our jurisprudence reform."

On Monday, the Star newspaper reported that Zuma wanted to review the Court's powers.

"We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers," Zuma said during an interview.

"It is after experience that some of the decisions are not decisions that every other judge in the Constitutional Court agrees with."

According to the newspaper, the issue was raised by a deputy minister and ANC leaders at the party's national executive committee meeting two weeks ago and was discussed by Cabinet ministers.

Zuma told the newspaper it was a "general societal issue" that was being raised.

He questioned the logic of having split judgments and said judges were being influenced by the media.

"How could you say that [the] judgment is absolutely correct when the judges themselves have different views about it?" Zuma told the newspaper.

He said that if decisions by Parliament could be challenged, there was nothing wrong with questioning the judiciary.

On Monday, Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts called on Zuma to clarify his remarks.

"President Zuma will find that he is on the path to a full-blown confrontation with the Constitutional Court if his remarks really mean what they seem to mean, because the court itself decides the constitutionality of constitutional amendments," Smuts said in a statement.

"It is apparent from the President's remarks that irritation with some of the court's judgements lies at the root of the desire for review."

  • Adam - 2012-02-13 20:57

    Anybody need a copy of Animal Farm?

      Cracker - 2012-02-13 21:15

      People generally don't read that much anymore.

      Atholl - 2012-02-13 21:53

      The same animals who depend on decisions that: '..must be viewed in the context of a decision the Cabinet took last year..' are the same useful animals who make decisions: .. to buy costly arms ... unconstitutionally .. to scrap the scorpions .. unconstitutionally .. Inquire Adv. Pikoli ... unconstitutionally .. legalise Secrecy .. unconstitutionally .. appoint Adv Simelane .. unconstitutionally .. appoint then resign SIU head .. unconstitutionally .. etc .. so that selected animals are --more equal-- than other animals. -- more equal-- animals have --more power-- than other animals. animals with --more power-- have --more control-- the other animals. -selected- -more equal- animals with -more power- and -more control- have -more money- that the less equal animals.

  • Marius Koen - 2012-02-13 20:58

    Zuma, get your house in order first. Your government are inefficient and lack vision and leadership.

      Atholl - 2012-02-13 21:34

      A President swears an oath to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. .... Every Judge swears the same oath. .......... before taking office / the bench .... If you swear an oath on the one day, {{. before taking office / or the bench }} then abuse your position to treat the Constitution as if it is a game, .... then the Constitution has a mechanism to remove anyone 'from office / the bench' {even a president / judge} and to fill the 'office' with another who is happy to operate within a Constitutional framework. ... put differently ... ==>} The Constitution gives anyone the RIGHT to call yourself a president / judge, to relate to a flag, anthem, province, court, religion, speech etc. It is the Constitution that has the power to remove this RIGHT. {{ especially when others have operated efficiently within the Constitution }}

      Jeremy - 2012-02-16 22:33

      The ANC don't need vision or leadership. They tell their followers that everything is okay, and the sweet kind individuals that they are say "COOL we will vote for you again. By the way where did all the money go and where's my house?" And so children this is how Democracy died in South Africa, and sooooo quickly too.

  • Geronimo - 2012-02-13 21:00

    There is no such thing as a "split judgment". It is why appellate courts have to have an odd number of judges (normally 3 or 5) to ensure that there is a "majority" judgment. There is nothing suspicious in this, it happens in every normal legal jurisdiction. As to this comment: "This is a positive move that ought to be welcomed by all who look up to the Constitutional Court as the champion of our jurisprudence reform." Surely the Constitution is just that, the Constitution... the highest law in the land. All the Courts have to do is objectively interpret the law in terms of the Constitution and its inherent Bill of Rights. Not quite sure where or why any grey area of jurisprudence reform" comes or should come into the equation...

      Cracker - 2012-02-13 21:12

      It is so ridiculous the reason given for the so-called review of the Concourt's powers. We need a website compulsory for politicians to answer criticism. They don't have to be able to type - enough resources available for them to hire capable persons to do it. They only have to do dictation. Then we'll see just how silly and dishonest they really are.

      Francois - 2012-02-13 22:17

      Cracker, first question to Zuma is: Did you get money in an unlawful way in the arms deal? (Someone must explain unlawful.) Then do you know of anyone in the ANC that did? Can you name them? What are you going to do about it? Did the ANC get money illegally as kickbacks from state tenders? Is the ANC going to pay back that money?

  • Hermann - 2012-02-13 21:03

    "We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers," Zuma said during an interview. There is the key the useless Cabinet and rotten parliament must be more powerful that the courts. Then why have a constitution? How long since the end of the struggle that the Whites won at the ballot polls for them and they have not yet succeeded in bringing transformation to fruition? Too busy frauding and corrupting I will say.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-13 22:24

      @Leonard, could it be something called "the arms deal"???

  • Cracker - 2012-02-13 21:06

    PLEASE ANC, stop playing games with our freedoms.

      Cracker - 2012-02-13 21:16

      Actually YOUR and YOUR OWN followers' freedoms. When the truth hits them they may not be all that loyal anymore.

  • Hallo - 2012-02-13 21:07

    In context? Please, it is too much to expect of the average person when their politcal opionions are biased.

  • Max - 2012-02-13 21:15

    "jurisprudence", "general societal issue" Trevor Noah explain these ANC terminology and why they use it, you will crack yourself.

  • Ben - 2012-02-13 21:19

    There is the transformation idea. Then there is the constitution. Should the constitutional court not be the final judge of decisions taken in this regard and decide whether these decisions are in accordance with the spirit of the constitution.

  • Vince.York - 2012-02-13 21:33

    We all KNOW that the ANC only wants the decisions of a single chief justice especially selected and appointed by the president to have veto powers of authority, because that will make it so much easier to grease any corrupt wheelings and dealings without having to go through all that arduous exposure. You recall, like a chief or king can arbitrarily make each morning depending on how he feels!

  • Vic - 2012-02-13 21:37

    Zuma is talking rubbish yet again. What makes him think the Constitutional Court is influenced by the Media, and what's wrong with split judgements ?Must they all follow like sheep? In the US they have split juries,and that's a first world Country. Maybe the problem is his appointees! Zuma should get on with his job of weeding out some of his incompetant government, gravy train riders.

  • rory.short1 - 2012-02-13 21:54

    The Constitution is the blueprint for the transformation of our society from an authoritarian apartheid society and the Concourt is there to see that legislation conforms to the blueprint. Has it not been doing that? The problem is it has been doing it and sometimes finding against the present government when it proposes legislation that conflicts with the constitution. The ANC does not like that.

  • Mboneni - 2012-02-13 22:00

    Concourt must be left as free and independent from political influence as possible, otherwise our constitution will be at the mercy of one political ideology.There is nothing wrong with split decisions the majority decision will always prevail.Only crooks will try to temper with our constitution so that we can be subjected to the law of the jungle.Hands off our constitution.The presidency is confused,Zumas utterences and intentions are clear and unerstoond,He does have a problem with a free and independent press .

  • Cracker - 2012-02-13 22:07

    Please also consider, ANC, that you are not the only one so clever to decide context. So stop trading with context as if it is your property.

  • Fanie - 2012-02-13 22:09

    Adam:- Did you know that when the miracle happens that SA starts reading that Animal Farm will be censored Because the const. court has been fidled with and that the book will reflect something that will fall under the secrecy bill and the book will be banned.

      Adam - 2012-02-13 23:29

      @Fanie: That would not surprise me at all.

  • Fanie - 2012-02-13 22:12

    O! I am so sorry about my previous comment. Nothing will happen as it is a known fact in the whole world, that PIGS can not read.

  • hennie.buys1 - 2012-02-13 22:14

    Its always interesting that when Zuma says something controversial it has to be taken in "context". Why not just shut up....

  • braamc - 2012-02-13 22:15

    This happens when you have and still manipulate the law and hosting lawlessness in your ranks. Disgracefull

  • BrainbowGold - 2012-02-14 01:59

    Here we now have evidence that Zuma views our Constitution as a threat to his existence.

  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-14 07:12


  • Gregory Jurgens - 2012-02-14 17:49

    Another dictator attempting to ensure his eternal rule.

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