Quote of the week

It is necessary that the integrity of the electoral process be maintained. Indeed, the acceptance of the election as being free and fair depends upon that integrity. Elections must not only be free and fair but they must be perceived as being free and fair. Even-handedness in dealing with all political parties and candidates is crucial to that integrity and its perception by voters. The Commission must not be placed in a situation where it has to make ad hoc decisions about political parties and candidates who have not complied with the Act. The requirement that documents must be submitted to the local offices of the Commission does not undermine the right to vote and to stand for election. It simply gives effect to that right and underscores the decentralised and local nature of municipal elections.

Ngcobo CJ
Electoral Commission of the Republic of South Africa v Inkatha Freedom Party
28 August 2009

Hlophe a free man?

This story has just been posted on the web by Independent Newspapers. 

Cape Judge President John Hlophe no longer faces the threat of impeachment.

Hours before the Judicial Service Commission is expected to announce its decision on the much-publicised dispute between Hlophe and the Constitutional Court, The Star has learnt that the JSC’s complaints committee  has decided not to proceed with the gross misconduct complaint against Hlophe.

They have found that there is no prima facie case against Hlophe. The Judge President is expected to return to work on Monday, days before he will again face the JSC – this time as a nominee for a Constitutional Court position.

It is understood that the JSC complaints committee was closely split on its decision about the Hlophe matter, which is expected to be conveyed to Hlophe and the Constitutional Court at noon. It remains unclear whether Hlophe or the Concourt will be reprimanded over the conduct that led to the dispute.

Delays in the announcement of the decision, which was made nearly two weeks ago, are believed to have been the result of the minority’s insistence that its reasons for wanting the complaint against Hlophe to continue should be publicised.

The Constitutional Court had accused Hlophe of attempting to lobby two of its judges for pro-President Jacob Zuma rulings. He in turn accused the Concourt of violating his constitutional rights by publicising their complaint against him.

The complaints resulted in what Hlophe’s legal team referred to as a “”constitutional crisis”, although one of the Supreme Court of Appeal judges who sat on a Hlophe-related case referred to the debacle as no more than a “constitutional curiousity”.

Hlophe’s lawyer Barnabas Xulu this morning told The Star that his client was still waiting to hear the result of the JSC’s preliminary inquiry into the Concourt complaint  against him, but stressed that the Concourt was also in the firing line over its conduct.

“People must not forget that there are two complaints here,” he said. It is understood that Hlophe’s complaint against the Concourt will also not be proceeding.

I will wait to comment until the official announcement.

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