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.
Mr Jacob Zuma’s lawyers must be worried by the application of President Thabo Mbeki to the Constitutional Court as they have now indicated that they will opppose the application. I am in Berlin at the moment so do not have access to South African newspapers, but from the IOL report it seems that after intensive deliberations the Zuma lawyers decided to oppose.
If they had thought there was no chance of this application succeeding and given the fact that Thabo Mbeki has already been ousted, one might have thought they would have allowed him to go on a frolick of his own without spending more energy on this application.
But perhaps they worry that the highest court will slam the Nicholson judgment and therefore feel that for political reasons they have to oppose the application. This is a rather weird case as Zuma will now oppose an application to appeal a judgment by a person who was not a party to the original application by Zuma.
The decision is an admission, it seems to me, that Zuma has a great interest in ensuring that the inferences made by Nicholson about political interference in his trial is not overturned. Perhaps this is because these inferences will assist Zuma’s lawyers if they want to bring an application for a permanent stay of prosecution.
They might be worried that the Constitutional Court will find that these applications by Zuma have been frivolous and premature and that he was delaying his trial in order to avoid his day in Court. It will be interesting to read their papers and to see what they will say to support the findings of Nicholson that there might have been political interference in the charging of Zuma.
Perhaps they know that this is not over yet and that the NPA still has a trick or two up its sleeve. Of course us tax payers are paying the legal fees for the application and for Mr Zuma’s response. Some might well wonder whether this is the best way to spend our money but for the two sides this seems to be a fight to the bitter end.
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