An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
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