WESTERN CAPE HIGH COURT CONFIRMS OUR VIEW IN THE AD HOC COMMITTEE
24 October 2014
The Office of the ANC Chief Whip welcomes and appreciates an important legal clarification provided by the Western Cape High Court today in the matter between the SABC and the DA, which should go a long way in clarifying contentious interpretations pertaining to the reports of the Public Protector.
The issue of whether the reports of the Public Protector are binding and enforceable was the subject of fierce debate in the Ad Hoc Committee set up to consider the report of the President on Nkandla security upgrades. The opposition had relentlessly insisted, and even walked out in protest, that reports of the Public Protector are binding and enforceable and Parliament may not question them. The judgment of the High Court today has proven that this view is legally flawed and without substance.
In his judgment today, the judge endorsed our longstanding and legally sound view that the reports of the Public Protector are not binding and enforceable. We fully agree that the reports of the Public Protector cannot be ignored; hence Parliament has set up this committee to deliberate on this and other reports relating to the security upgrades at Nkandla.
What Parliament cannot do though is to merely rubberstamp the reports of the Public Protector without question - as demanded by the opposition. This would suggest that the Public Protector is above Parliament - which would be in direct conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and the law.
Although Parliament may not review the findings of the Public Protector's reports, it is however constitutionally obligated to independently interrogate them and formulate an official view. This is exactly what is currently happening in the Ad Hoc Committee.
The ANC has consistently expressed its support and respect for all institutions supporting our constitutional democracy. However, such support does not extend to instances where they may act outside of the bounds of the constitution and the laws under which they function. As found by the Court - and contrary to the belief held by the opposition and often expressed even by the Public Protector - the Public Protector is not a court of law and its powers and functions are not adjudicative.
As correctly pointed out by the judgment, "unlike courts, the Public Protector does not hear and determine causes...Further, unlike an order or decision of a court, a finding by the Public Protector is not binding on persons and organs of state. If it was intended that the findings of the Public Protector should be binding and enforceable, the Constitutions would have said so".
The judgment affirms the correctness of our stance in the committee and exposes the opposition's ill-advised posturing, which even prompted their ill-conceived walkout from the committee. As we have always asserted, the stunts by the DA-led grouping are not motivated by a desire for the ad hoc committee to do a decent work on its task, but are driven purely by an obsessive anti-President Zuma agenda.
We hope that this judgment will compel them to reflect and reconsider their misguided position. The door of the ad hoc committee remains open for this grouping to come back and perform the task for which the electorate elected them.
Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, October 24 2014
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