NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, PARLIAMENT
At the outset, allow me once again to congratulate the Chief Justice, his fellow Justices and staff, on the outstanding work that our apex court, the Constitutional Court is doing, in upholding and keeping sacrosanct and inviolate, the Rule of Law in this country. I shudder to think of the dire straits we would now find ourselves in, had it not been for our courts and their unwavering defence of the Rule of Law. Chief Justice, you are credit to your profession and your country.
In respect of judicial appointments, I am privileged to serve together with 5 of my colleagues from the National Assembly in the Judicial Services Commission. This body, chaired by the Chief Justice bears the responsibility of ensuring that only fit-for-purposes Judges are appointed to our High, Appeal and Constitutional Courts. It remains untarnished by politics and this is testament to the character and integrity of both its Chair and Members. May this practice continue ad infinitum.
Honourable Speaker, with a projected budget of only 1.98 Billion for the 2017/2018the OCJ has their work cut out for them. The administration of justice is still falling short of the mark and this is where improvements must be made in terms of under spending on programmes, poor governance, low numbers of finalised cases, review and setting aside of judicial decisions and the low numbers of finalised cases.
The continuing saga in the Judge Nkola Motata matter demands resolution. As of last year Judge Motata may have earned up to 13m rands since his ‘special leave’ suspension was instituted in 2007. This cannot be allowed to continue and must be prioritized for resolution.
Clarity on steps to be taken towards institutional independence are also of paramount importance especially in these times where we have a real threat of ‘state capture’ which has already taken root in government. The question arises as to why the OCJ still falls under the budget of Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and whilst we all know about the golden rule – “he who has the gold makes the rules!” we would still like to see further tangible progress in respect of the institutional independence of the Judiciary? We have heard talk of a report commissioned some years ago on this matter? But nothing concrete has yet materialized.
Another perplexing issue is, – why do Judges have to still apply to the Minister of Justice for leave? Surely this is a usurping and undermining of the role of the Judiciary to manage its own administration?
Honourable Speaker, the recent breach in security which saw 15 computers stolen from the HR offices of the Chief Justice in Midrand, dealt a massive blow to the effective administration of the Justice. In addition, these PC’s contained personal information about Judges and officials. The perpetrators of this crime must be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and one can only hope that this burglary was not committed by an already existing tentacle of the ‘state capture’ apparatus.
But what is most concerning and unfortunate is that at a march held in Durban on Monday, the chairperson of the ANC in KZN, Mr Sihle Zikalala, said,
”There is a growing observable trend by the courts to act and play in a big brother role where in some cases-not many,[he says]the courts find themselves encroaching on the terrain of other organs[of state]”
Mr Zikalala must perhaps be informed that we are a constitutional democracy and in order to safeguard our democracy, our courts can be used as a last resort to protect our democracy from abuses of the majority and that we would not expect comments such as these to be made by a leader of the governing party.
The IFP supports this Budget Vote.
I thank you.
Hon Narend Singh, MP
IFP Spokesperson on Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administration
083 788 5954
IFP Media, Parliament