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
20 September 2008

Thabo Mbek to resign as President

I am reliably told that the ANC will announce in the next hour or two that President Thabo Mbeki will resign as President of the country. If this is correct, the big question then is what happens to the Deputy President and his cabinet and who will act as President until a new President is elected.

The Times reports this morning that Baleka Mbete will take over as acting President, but as I read the Constitution this is not possible unless the entire cabinet resigns as well. Even then the Speaker can only act as President until the National Assembly designates another of its members as acting President. The reason for this is that the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive makes it unwise for the Speaker of Parliament to head the national executive and only requires this as a last resort for as short a period as possible.

The SABC plans a live broadcast to carry this announcment. We will then hear what wil happen next and what the position of the cabinet is in all of this.

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