As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.
Either Mr Zuma and his executive are being deliberately obtuse to obscure their real intentions and attitude towards the independence of the judiciary, the doctrine of the separation of powers and the supremacy of the constitution, or the Presidency is in desperate need of advice from an experienced constitutional lawyer. The latter possibility — that Mr Zuma simply does not “get” the constitutional democracy concept and has failed to surround himself with people who do — cannot be excluded, despite the fact that the political party he heads was the primary driver of the process that led to the writing of the constitution. That internationally acclaimed document’s main authors were, and remain, sympathetic towards the freedom struggle and the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) stated goal of transforming SA politically, economically and socially to shed the vestiges of apartheid. There is therefore no shortage of constitutional experts in the tripartite alliance who would be happy to provide guidance on such matters, yet senior party leaders keep making statements that appear to question the core principles on which our democracy is based, and the executive keeps acting in ways that leave the Constitutional Court no choice but to overturn its decisions. – Business Day editorialBACK TO TOP