The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) welcomes Judiciary Day, an opportunity for the Judiciary to report on its progress, founded in 2018 by former Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng.
As per the Constitution, “The courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice.”
It is therefore clear that the role and responsibility of the courts within our constitutional democracy cannot be overstated. However, of equal importance, is that the Courts themselves adhere to the principles of transparency, accountability, and openness.
Judiciary Day, commemorated on 14 December this year, provides an opportunity for the presentation of the Judiciary’s Annual Report, and is therefore a necessary mechanism for accountability.
As we reflect upon some of the feedback provided in the Report, we must take the opportunity to commend the successes, but also to question areas where the Judiciary is failing to meet targets. The Constitutional Court, our Apex Court, only finalised 273 of the 445 matters heard. This falls short of its target of 70% of finalised matters.
The Supreme Court of Appeal, however, managed to exceed its 80% target, achieving 81% finalised matters. The Divisions of the High Court also performed well, achieving 85% finalised matters, 10% more than their target of 75%.
Some of the Specialist Courts struggled, such as the Labour and Labour Appeals Courts, but the Land Claims Court achieved well above its target of 60%, achieving 72% finalised matters.
However, it is important to remind ourselves that each of these matters represent a South African in pursuit of justice.
This prompts us to ask the question: is it reasonable for the Judiciary set a target of only 58% for finalised labour matters, which they were unable to achieve. Of 4 168 cases, only 2 188 were finalised, which means 1 980 matters were not finalised. Almost 2 000 people left without closure relating to their employment status.
We implore the Courts to do better. We implore them to aim for 100% achievement of all their targets.
We recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic created challenges as regards access to justice. We further recognise that budgets and insufficient staff are also a contributing factor.
As the IFP, we therefore call on government to ensure that the Judiciary receive sufficient budget, including the resources to fill vacant posts, and allow for Departments to be fully capacitated.
Hon. Narend Singh, MP
IFP Chief Whip in Parliament and Member of the Judicial Service Commission (Jsc)
083 788 5954