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
13 December 2006

Media neglect Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court is the highest body of the third branch of government, but one would be hard-pressed to know this if one read some of our newspapers. The papers who obsessively report on the various government ministers, their trips abroad and their every irrelevant cliched utterance, seem to be a bit allergic to the work of the Court.

Yesterday the CC handed down judgment in an important case about refugee rights. The Business Day does report on this case but I find no mention of it in either Die Burger or the Cape Times. Maybe the less parochial papers in Johannesburg carried it?

Perhaps because the work done by the court is less sensational and not prone to the master narratives of corruption and incompetence associated with the legislature or executive, papers do not report on the work of the Court properly. It won’t sell newspapers. But how can we make informed choices about politics if we do not know what the third branch of government is doing?

I will blog tomorrow on my take of the latest decision.

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