Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
18 December 2008

Boesak and public morality

On Tuesday Dr Allan Boesak gave a rousing speech at the rally that concluded the COPE congress. Boesak, who was one of the founders of the United Democratic Front and was later convicted and sent to jail for mismanaging donor funds, was pardoned by the President a few years ago.

If I was a COPE leader I would have felt uncomfortable to give Boesak such a prominent spot at the rally. What does this say about the new party’s commitment to honest and corrupt-free governance? There might be those who argue that Boesak had served his time in jail and that because he was pardoned by the President, we should not hold it against him.

I am torn on this question. If Dr Boesak had applied for the job and if he had shown that he had turned over a new leave, I might have given him a second chance and might have employed him. But should politicians not be held to a slightly higher standard?

The mayor of Washington DC was re-elected a mayor after erving a prion entence for possion and ue of crack cocaine and at the time the chattering classes in the USA were up in arms that the voters could have re-elected this man of dubious moral probity. I was less upset about his comeback as the use of drugs is a “victimless” crime and does not involve stealing money from the poor.

Boesak on the other hand ued funds earmarked for community development projects and in a awy took the food out of the mouths of the hungry. He has also never shown any remorse for what he has done.

It just goes to show, when it comes to politics, public morality in South Africa is rather of a dismal standard.

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