Parliament's role 'affirmed' by AfriForum and Mkhwebane's failed court bids

09 October 2020 - 20:17
Parliament has welcomed three court judgments this week which it said affirmed its conduct. The legal bids sought to challenge its law-making and oversight responsibilities
Parliament has welcomed three court judgments this week which it said affirmed its conduct. The legal bids sought to challenge its law-making and oversight responsibilities
Image: GCIS

Parliament has welcomed three court judgments this week which it said affirmed its conduct. The legal bids sought to challenge its lawmaking and oversight responsibilities.  

The first judgment was handed down on Wednesday, by the high court in Pretoria which dismissed an application by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) to compel parliament to pass specific Covid-19 legislation.

“In its judgment, the court found that measures to manage Covid-19 were captured adequately in the provisions and regulations of the Disaster Management Act (DMA). The HSF had also not challenged these. Significantly, the court affirmed that there was no duty on the executive to act or for parliament to pass any further legislation to manage the effects of Covid-19 because the DMA was the legislation that was envisaged to manage disasters of an extended duration,” said spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

The court ordered parliament and the organisation to pay their own costs.

In the second judgment, handed down on Thursday, the Western Cape High Court dismissed AfriForum’s application challenging the constitutionality of parliament’s review of section 25 of the constitution.

“The court was critical of AfriForum’s litigation of the matter because it tried to adapt its case based on the defences that parliament presented. As a measure of its disapproval of this conduct, the court awarded parliament costs.

“It also found that the matter was moot because no practical effect could be given to the relief that AfriForum sought as the matter was overtaken by events and, therefore, it was not in the interests of justice to grant the relief,” said Mathapo.  

In the latest judgment, handed down on Friday, an application by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane for an interim interdict to stop National Assembly (NA) speaker Thandi Modise from continuing to process a motion for her removal from office was dismissed.

The DA had submitted  the motion in February this year.  

“The court found that the public protector had failed to demonstrate a strong case to interdict the process. The court was satisfied that the balance of convenience favoured the NA proceeding with carrying out its constitutional function in terms of section 194 of the constitution and the NA rules.

“The judge accepted the speaker’s submission that an interim interdict would have amounted to a serious restriction of a critical feature of the National Assembly's oversight powers and would have encroached unduly on the separation of powers,” said Mathapo.

The court maintained the impeachment process of an office bearer of a chapter nine institution was a serious mechanism for the accountability of the office bearers under the constitution and, therefore, a court should not lightly interfere with such processes, according to Mathapo.  

Mkhwebane was ordered to pay the costs of Modise and one other respondent, including the costs of up to three counsel.

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