Political parties condemned for exploiting judiciary – NADEL

Association accepts the withdrawal and apology by ANC for use of DCJ Mandisa Maya's image

NADEL condemns political parties exploiting South African judiciary for political campaigns

20 November 2023

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) stands firmly in defence of the non-partisanship and integrity of the South African judiciary, as enshrined in the South African Constitution.

NADEL vehemently condemns any attempts by political parties to exploit the members of the judiciary for their own political campaigns. Such actions not only undermine the fundamental principles of our democracy but also pose a significant threat to the independence of the judiciary.

The NADEL President, Mr Mvuzo Notyesi said “the South African Constitution, in Chapter 8, clearly outlines the principles that govern the judiciary. Section 165(2) of the Constitution states that ‘the judiciary must be independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply impartially and without fear, favour, or prejudice.’ This provision underscores the critical importance of an impartial and non-partisan judiciary in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of all citizens. The judiciary's role in interpreting and applying the law must be safeguarded to ensure that it operates without interference from any external political influences.”

NADEL firmly believes that the judiciary must be shielded from partisan politics to maintain public trust and confidence in its decisions. The judiciary's role as a guardian of justice and the Constitution must be preserved, and any attempts to compromise its independence must be vigorously opposed.

The use of deputy chief justice Maya’s photograph by the African National Congress (ANC) in its campaign is similarly condemned. However, NADEL accepts the withdrawal and apology. It is a show of remorse. It was the right thing to do, especially because deputy chief justice Maya is not a member of any political party and has no political preferences as a Judicial officer.

In this regard, NADEL reiterates its long-standing position that:

Political parties should refrain from involving members of the judiciary in their political campaigns or using judicial decisions as tools for political gain.

The independence and non-partisanship of the judiciary should be upheld at all times to safeguard the democratic principles and values enshrined in the South African Constitution.

The South African legal profession, civil society, and citizens have a responsibility to protect and defend the judiciary's integrity and independence, and to hold accountable those who seek to compromise it.

NADEL calls upon all political parties, government institutions, and stakeholders to respect the Constitution's principles and refrain from exploiting the judiciary for political purposes. We urge all South Africans to remain vigilant in safeguarding the independence of our judiciary, as it plays a pivotal role in ensuring justice and upholding the rule of law in our democracy.

Issued by Adv Lizelle Haskins, Publicity Secretary, NADAL, 20 November 2023