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
22 October 2007

Mbeki and the world cup victory

Was I being too sensitive and cynical for noticing how some of the members of the England Rugby team seemed to walk right past President Thabo Mbeki during the handing out of the medals?

I almost felt sorry for him: there he was, short and wooden – looking as comfortable as Al Gore during a Presidential debate – and, quite frankly, a bit disheveled in his Springbok outfit. I suppose he was sadly trying (unsuccessfully) to emulate Madiba at the 1995 World Cup, standing next to Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown and looking decidedly uncomfortable.

Then some of the England players just walked right past him, with him, grabbing on to their sleeves to get the chance to congratulate them on losing.

It seems to me like a textbook display of the subliminal racism that Mbeki himself talks about so often and get so upset and obsessed with. It is as if the England players, after shaking hands with the French President and their own Prime Minister, did not even see our President and for what reason? Surely not only because he was not dressed in a suit. Could it be that they thought this little man was not important because he was black?

In any case, I found it sad. Sadder still was the President’s body language throughout the celebrations. Even when he was lifted shoulder high and he hoisted the world cup he did not look very comfortable. Decidedly out of his element.

But surely the South African victory must boost the President’s chances of being re-elected President of the ANC. The Springbok victory has erased some of the doom and gloom that was hanging over South Africa and, for the time being at least, is making us all a little bit optimistic.

This could change the mood of some delegates going to Limpopo and who knows, might influence the election. How ironic it would be if the African Nationalist’s chances of re-election is boosted by the winning of the world cup by a team who is decidedly pale in complexion.

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