Courts cannot be co-opted into co-operative governance without losing their independence
The presentation today by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe of Cabinet's proposed assessment of Constitutional Court judgements confirms our fears that government may be attempting to co-opt the courts. It falls short of meeting the requirement we set last week.
We said the only way in which such research would be acceptable is the form in which Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, framed it in the National Assembly; to paraphrase: review of Constitutional Court judgments relevant to the Executive to assess whether government has given effect to the Court's rulings in its policies and programmes, and how the results impact the lives of citizens and socio-economic transformation.
The discussion document presented by the Minister still states that the assessments (now to be done jointly with research institutions, therefore by the executive) will evaluate the decisions of the Constitutional Court against the desired transformation landscape. This will result in "debate" and then a programme of action.
The extent to which the court's decisions are implemented by government comes as an afterthought instead of being the primary focus of any study.
As always the plight of the poor is partially used as the rationale for the exercise.