AARTI J NARSEE
THE Judicial Service Commission will this week interview four women judges for a single Constitutional Court spot, starting a process expected to throw into sharp relief some of the tensions related to the independence of the judiciary.
The candidates are Supreme Court of Appeal justices Nonkosi Mhlantla, Zukisa Tshiqi and Leona Theron, and Kwa-Zulu-Natal High Court Judge Dhaya Pillay.
All are seeking the slot made vacant by the retirement of Justice Thembile Skweyiya last year. There are two women, justices Bess Nkabinde and Sisi Khampepe, and eight men serving on the Constitutional Court, which has 11 such posts.
Unlike other judicial appointments, for which the JSC recommends one candidate to the president, the Constitutional Court appointment rests largely on the president’s decision.
The interviews come at a time of heightened tension between the judiciary and the executive, sparked by the government ignoring a court order barring Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving South Africa.
The ANC-led tripartite alliance, which concluded a summit in Pretoria this week, added fuel to the fire when, in one of its resolutions, it raised concerns about the “emerging trend, in some quarters, of judicial overreach”.
DGRU assisted the Western Cape Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges to advertise their newly launched mentorship programme for women law students. The response from the students was overwhelming and the programme has been very active since its launch with a large number of UCT students participating. Students are visiting the court during holidays and listening in during court proceedings and the judges have brief discussions with them afterwards. Students are enjoying being exposed to the practical side of the law immensely.
We have been quiet, but busy keeping African legal information ticking and working on a couple of tech projects in the background. Today, we introduce LII-in-a-Box.
Last year AfricanLII developed a set of functional specifications, essentially, documenting a simple, yet standards-oriented, approach to an online legal publication platform. The twist: we aim to make this platform easily deployable even in more resource-constrained circumstances. The platform is called LII-in-a-Box, but is actually an out of the box solution for free access legal publishing. You can read the full fuctional specification here. An exceprt on the rationale of the project reads as follows:
Statement by the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town:
A judicial crisis of serious magnitude has been added to the political fiasco that has gripped Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek re-election for a third term come June 2015. The country’s Constitutional Court’s ruling that the third term bid has constitutional backing has sparked more violent protests and left the political opposition even more entrenched in its resistance to the bid.
Mr Nkurunziza has served two five-year terms as President of Burundi. His first term commenced in 2005 after he was elected by the Parliament. His was elected for a second term by universal suffrage in 2010. However, his decision to run for a third term has been interpreted by the political opposition as a violation of Burundi’s Constitution and the Arusha accords that ended Burundi’s civil war and provided for a power sharing mechanism. On the other hand, Mr Nkurunziza’s supporters argue that there has been no violation of the Constitution because his first term in office came about through an election by parliament, rather than by ‘universal direct suffrage’ as required by the Constitution. Hence, in terms of the Constitution, Mr Nkurunziza’s supporters argue that he is entitled to seek re-election by universal direct suffrage. The Constitutional Court’s ruling upheld this argument.