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
28 December 2007

Zuma indicted?

My usually reliable sources tell me that Jacob Zuma was indicted today on several charges stretching beyond the fraud and corruption charges brought against Schabir Shaik and extending to racketeering and tax fraud. Apparently Mr Zuma’s lawyer, Roger Hullay has confirmed this. It will be reported tonight on ETV news.

The timing is curious. In the absence of any news on charges being brought against Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, the haste with which charges are being brought seems to suggest that the NPA and (perhaps its political masters) were scared that Mr Zuma and the newly emboldened ANC NEC would try and stop charges being brought against him. They felt that time was of the essence and thus had to move before the ANC NEC met for the first time.

It does create new legal and political trouble for Mr Zuma as it suggests that the raids on his premises and that of his lawyers has uncovered new evidence of possible wrongdoing on his part. Like Al Capone who was eventually brought down by tax evasion charges, Mr Zuma might yet be brought low not by the original charges of fraud and corruption but the ancillary charges now added to the charge sheet.

Am I the only one to see the hand of Presidnet Thabo Mbeki in all of this? With the principled Vusi Pikoli out of the way and with the hapless, buffoonish, Mokoted Mpshe, acting as head of the NPA, it might well be that the president has placed some serious pressure on him to charge Zuma as soon as possible. No stories here of the MInister of Justice not being available to receive information from the NPA about possible charges. And why is it being done on a Friday between Christmas and New Year.

For those who believe in the conspiracy against Zuma this will be a final straw in giving proof of that conspiracy. But of course, even if there is a conspiracy and even if we all believe there to be one, if Mr Zuma is convicted, he will not be able to become President and Mr Mbeki would have “won” the battle (if not the war) against the Zuma camp.

All in all, a peculiar development. And you heard it here first!

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