Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation. This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.
Whilst we are not fully appraised with the reasons thereto, we hold a firm and honest belief that it should stand to reason that as custodians of the interpretation and application of the constitution, which is unequivocal on issues of transparency and accountability by all arms of government including the judiciary, there was and there still remains a duty to lead the pack on transparency which is already meted out against executive and legislature. To this end, there does not appear to be any foundational basis for the justices not to disclose their financial interests including their assets. If anything, their focal point should be hinging on establishing mechanisms of ensuring that the disclosures are as less intrusive “IS possible, largely in so far as same may be relating to their families.
The disclosures which are meted out to the Executive and Legislature should similarly hold same for the judiciary. There are hosts of reasons for such line of disclosure to be adopted.
While we acknowledge the inalienable right to follow the due process, it will be extremely amazing if the justices were to carry out the threat of subjecting this issue to court processes. Such a course of action is not only undesirable but is also enemical to the judiciary’s commitment to transparency as envisaged by the constitution.
The BLA accordingly urge the justices not to entangle themselves in a quagmire of whether or not the proposed disclosures are necessary or not. In our view these measures are not only desirable but are also necessary both in fact and law and above all are instructure in terms of the constitution which binds the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
PER: P B MABUNDA
OBO: BLACK LAWYERS ASSOCIATION