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Judiciary should be a no-go zone for badly bruised Zuma

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-15 00:20:37.0

The Times Editorial: It appears President Jacob Zuma just cannot resist rebuking the judiciary - or at least some aspect of it. In an interview this week, Zuma said there should be a review of the Constitutional Court's powers.

Zuma is quoted as saying: "We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers. It is after experience that some of the decisions are not decisions that every other judge in the Constitutional Court agrees with.

"There are dissenting judgments we read. You will find that the dissenting one has more logic than the one that enjoyed the majority. What do you do in that case?"

Zuma's office was quick to say his comments should not be taken out of context and that he was referring to a cabinet decision announced in 2011 to assess the impact of the court on transforming society.

But it is difficult to view Zuma's latest comments in isolation given his previous statements about the judiciary and the role he would prefer it to play in South Africa.

As recently as November, Zuma spoke of the separation of state and judiciary and that the court has no role to play in determining policy.

He implied that, while the government respected the judiciary, that was not reciprocated. In addition, several senior ANC leaders have taken swipes at the judiciary.

It is not insignificant either that Zuma has been on the losing side of major court decisions, namely Hugh Glenister's Constitutional Court challenge to the existence of the Hawks and the DA's Supreme Court of Appeal application to have Menzi Simelane's appointment as national director of public prosecutions declared invalid.

He faces another hurdle today when the Supreme Court of Appeal hears arguments from the DA to have the Zuma spy tapes made known. Given this context, it is not entirely unreasonable to assume the president has little liking for the judiciary and that this, ultimately, might cloud his judgment.

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