Thu Dec 08 16:20:05 SAST 2016

We are none the wiser on ANC's views on judiciary

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-29 00:22:31.0

The Times Editorial: The much-anticipated document on the transformation of the judiciary was finally released yesterday, but left much confusion in its wake.

For starters, the threatening tone that has been coming from senior ANC leaders appears not to have been carried through in the document.

Much has been made of the statements by ANC NEC member Ngoako Ramatlhodi, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and its president, Jacob Zuma, that the judiciary has repeatedly overstepped itself in its judgments, particularly the Constitutional Court.

In an interview earlier this month, Zuma said: "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."

But yesterday's document shies away from clarifying Zuma's intentions.

Instead, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, in his briefing document, broadly talks about assessing the impact of the Constitutional Court on "the reconstruction of society" - a process that is expected to take 18 months.

Once completed, Radebe said, the outcome will form the basis for seminars and a national conference.

But is this the ultimate objective of the assessment - a talk shop for academics, members of the judiciary and politicians?

The document speaks to issues of transformation with little attention to gender and racial changes within the judiciary.

It praises transformation with regard to gender and race, conveniently omitting the recent Judicial Service Commission's decision not to appoint judges to the Cape High Court because they could not find suitable black candidates.

And certainly, a significant omission from the document is a much-needed review of the commission, an organisation that has not exactly covered itself in glory over the years.

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