Zuma warns courts
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says the executive should be the one that decides on government policy and how it is implemented, not the courts.
Speaking at a joint sitting of Parliament to bid farewell to former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo and welcome new chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Zuma cautioned that the executive must be allowed to do its work without threats of legal action.
"Our view is that the executive, as elected officials, has the sole discretion to decide policies for government," he said yesterday.
Zuma said he was aware that when he raised similar sentiments in the past it raised a heated debate.
Mogoeng was nominated followed a stir caused by Zuma's attempt to extend Ngcobo's five-year term.
Relying on a clause in legislation determining the salaries and employment condition of judges, Zuma triggered a legal row when he tried to get Ngcobo to stay on another five years.
Ngcobo later declined Zuma's offer, opting to step down on August 14, the official date of his retirement.
Mogoeng's nomination, however, did not go down well in legal circles and other sectors, as many felt deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke should have been the preferred candidate.
Zuma's warning comes after several ANC leaders, including secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, NEC member Ngoako Ramatlhodi and ANC youth league president Julius Malema rallied against what they perceive as efforts by pressure groups to govern through the courts.
This is after interest groups threatened a spate of legal challenges against government action and laws they disagree with, including the controversial Protection of Information Bill. The bill was put on ice by the ANC following a public outcry.
Mantashe told Sowetan that "the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers must never be translated into hostility".
Malema said the courts were being used to bring apartheid through the back door at a press conference arranged shortly after Judge Colin Lamont's ruling declaring the songShoot the Boer as hate speech.
Ngcobo told MPs yesterday that no arm of government could claim to be more superior than others.