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
5 December 2007

Thabo Mbeki interview on SABC radio (I)

I am listening to the interview of President Thabo Mbeki on the SABC radio stations, part of Mbeki’s election campaign, I suppose. For the first time I will try to Blog live – like Bloggers often do in the USA when there is a Presidential debate. First thoughts:

  1. After ten minutes the political editor of the SABC has only asked the most sweetheart of questions of the most boring kind. The SABC would find it difficult to defend itself against claims that it is a cheer leader for the President and part of his re-election campaign unless the questions get at least a bit more probing. There is a long question quoting Stats South Africa on how much people’s lives are improving – which is of course true – but it is for the President to make these points if he can slip them in, not the SABC political editor.

  2. Finally a question asking the President why he only got nominations from 4 Provinces. President Mbeki says, well, people may not look at the issues raised by the SABC about how lives have improved and may therefore not have voted for him. He adds that there is a democratic process which must be respected and so be it. That is a bland answer but at least it is correct and sounds generous. One point for the President.

  3. After twenty minutes the President is still droning on about the tripartite alliance and I am once again reminded of just how uncharismatic the President can be when he gets stuck in bureaucratic-speak. He says the “objective facts” (a favourite phrase) which required the alliance to be formed still remain in place today, so the alliance will continue regardless who wins at Polokwane. He does not talk at all about the fights, the vicious attacks on him and the ANC by Zwelenzima Vavi, and the attacks by him on Vavi and members of the so called “ultra left”. This means the President really failed to answer the question. Maybe the President is not wanting to pick a fight with Vavi at this stage for clever strategic reasons (attacks seeming to energise Vavi and his supporters), but I fear it sounds as if the President thinks if he ignores the crazy attacks on him by the alliance partners, and merely states that the “objective” facts still require the alliance to continue, it will be so and will be accepted as so – regardless of what people might think they have seen happening in front of their very own eyes.

After the first section of the interview I find the President’s performance bland and really seeming out of touch with what is happening in South Africa. Maybe I am just jaundiced, but there is no engagement with the real issues raised by people inside and outside the ANC.

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