Quote of the week

The unhappy fact that it is journalists, investigating organs of state and officialdom and the political class and their involvement in corrupt practices to loot the State’s resources, who, by so doing, attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the State to smell out their adversaries, cannot be ignored. The examples of abuse of the system have been addressed elsewhere in this judgment. Moreover, the respondents’ perspectives assume that the designated judge is not lied to and is diligent… In my view, in the absence of a rebuttal, this example illustrates a grave vulnerability in RJCA that such an apparent abuse could occur. The common cause examples of blatant lies being told to the designated judge further exacerbates the vulnerability of the system.

Sutherland J
Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others
15 June 2009

Competition! Who should serve on the Constitutional Court?

This is an invitation to all readers of this Blog. Why not get involved in the debate about who should be appointed to the four vacancies on our Constitutional Court? I therefore invite readers to get involved in the debate by proposing their “dream candidates” for our highest court.

In several judgments – including the Doctors for Life case and the Matatiele case – the Constitutional Court has emphasised the important role that participatory democracy plays in our constitutional order. The problem is that many South Africans are world champions at complaining but far less enthusiastic about actually participating in debates or getting involved in actions to help build a more fair and just society that works for all.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) opened nominations on Monday for four judges to fill vacancies in the Constitutional Court. Until 15 July, the commission will accept the names of candidates, and it will begin its interview process in Johannesburg on 5 September.

So here is the deal.

All the clever, compassionate, obstinate, know-it-all or just plain experienced people out there must surely know lawyers, judges and academics who they think can serve with distinction on our highest court. So you are all invited to “nominate” your dream candidate (or candidates) on this Blog. Write a short motivation (no more than 350 words) on why you think a particular person will make a good Constitutional Court judge and post it in the comments section of this post (or later posts I will put up). To encourage practicing lawyers to participate, you are allowed to write under a pseudonym.

Readers are free to debate these “nominations” by either stating agreement or disagreement with a nomination.

I will read all the motivations and other contributions and on 13 July I will announce the winner of our own Constitutionally Speaking competition. The winner will be the person who wrote the best motivation – regardless of whether I agree with the candidature of the person “nominated” or not. If you write a brilliant motivation in support of Judge President John Hlophe, say, you will be adjuged the winner. I cannot offer a prize, but if you find yourself in Cape Town I would be more than happy to buy you dinner.

At the end of the process I will put forward my own own list of  “dream candidates” – for what it is worth.

Let us debate and argue and engage! It is OUR democracy and we should get involved. If we do not, why would anyone need to take us seriously when we complain (as we surely will!).

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