Cabinet to have Constitutional Court decisions 'assessed'

On the heels of promises by journalists, freedom of expression activists and opposition members of Parliament to challenge the constitutionality of the Protection of State Information Bill if enacted, the Cabinet says the decisions by the Constitutional Court will be “assessed” as part of a broader review of transformation in South Africa’s judicial system.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday that Cabinet, in its meeting on Wednesday, decided that transformation in the judicial system and the role of the judiciary in a developmental state would be assessed by a “reputable research institution”.

The assessment would be threefold. Firstly to ensure that the judiciary “conforms to the transformation mandate as envisaged in the Constitution” in terms of non-racialism, gender, disability, and other transformational variables.

Secondly to access justice—on all levels of the courts, from the lower courts through to the Constitutional Court.

Transformation goals
Thirdly to affirm the independence of the judiciary as well as that of the executive and Parliament to promote independence and the interface necessary to realise transformation goals as envisaged by the Constitution.

Cabinet agreed on a specific approach to the transformation of the judicial system, Manyi said.

This included that the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court be undertaken by a research institution to establish how the “decisions of the court have impacted on the lives of ordinary citizens and how these decisions have influenced socio-economic transformation and the reform of the law”.

The Judicial Education Institute would be used as a vehicle for transformation through which aspirant and serving judicial officers could acquire the necessary skills to contribute to the evolving local and global constitutional jurisprudence.

Measures would be taken to enhance the efficiency and integrity of the Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates Commission in carrying out their constitutional mandate of facilitating the racial, gender and other constitutional prescripts in the judiciary.

An appropriate framework would be established to regularly monitor implementation of court decisions by all state departments, he said.

The mandates of the South Africa Law Reform Commission and the Rules Board of Law would be reviewed to “enhance the research capacity of the state to be able to lead transformation in the fields that have greater impact on the lives of people, such as socio-economic transformation, land reform, mining, aviation, and many more”.

Appropriate mechanisms would also be developed to facilitate regular interface between the three spheres of government to “enhance synergy and constructive engagement among them in pursuit of common transformative goals geared to benefit society at large”, Manyi said.—Sapa


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