The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has called on the ANC to take urgent steps to openly support the judiciary and respect the courts in the wake of virulent criticism of the judiciary following a series of judgments against President Jacob Zuma and senior government officials.
In the space of less than a week, the High Court in Pretoria has set aside the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as National Director of Public Prosecutions as unlawful, confirmed former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report and its remedial action as binding and granted two personal punitive costs orders against the president for persisting with ill-advised and reckless litigation.
The court found that the president was conflicted because of the criminal charges he faced and prima facie evidence that he was involved in state capture and took away his powers to appoint a new NDPP and to name the judge to preside over a state capture commission of inquiry.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will have to appoint the NDPP for as long as President Zuma remains in office and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng must name the judge to preside in the state capture inquiry.
The president has already lodged an appeal against the ruling that he may not appoint an NDPP, saying it had the effect of leaving the country “with two presidents” while the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution lodged an application with the Constitutional Court to confirm the NDPP ruling.
The LSSA added its voice to the Black Lawyers Association, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Cape Law Society and other legal practitioners calling on the ANC to protect the constitution, the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.
The Society called on the ANC to rebuke the Youth League and others who “unjustifiably attack and criticise the judiciary without proper grounds, including personal attacks on judges and unwarranted accusations of overreaching and partiality with ludicrous threats of impeachment”.
The profession also called on the ANC to level with the people of South Africa about the true intentions behind state of emergency regulations, a media tribunal and our country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal court.
It urged the ANC to restore the status and dignity of the NPA and to deal decisively with state capture allegations by immediately complying with the court order and not wasting taxpayers’ money on frivolous appeals.