Cabinet to rejig court system


Cabinet has approved amendments to the Superior Courts Bill. Government spokesperson Themba Maseko says the Bill seeks to restructure the judiciary and integrate the Labour Court into South Africa’s High Courts.

“This new clause provides security of tenure to the judges of the Labour Court who are not judges of the High Court for the fixed period for which they have been appointed by the President,” Maseko said in a statement. The Bill and its companion constitutional amendment ran into a barrage of opposition from the legal fraternity in 2006 when they made their first appearance in Parliament.

Many senior jurists saw the Bill as an assault on the independence of the judiciary. In its new incarnation, the Bill makes the office of the Chief Justice responsible for running the country’s courts, including the magistrates’ division. Some of the key issues the Bill sought to address were the rationalisation of the composition, areas of jurisdiction and structures of the superior courts.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development reassured that it would enshrine the independence, impartiality and dignity of the judiciary.

Maseko said Cabinet also approved the Constitution change that would give national government wide powers to intervene at local level. The main aim of the amendment was to ensure national policy was properly implemented to boost service delivery. This bill vests national government with new powers of intervention at local government level to facilitate service delivery and to achieve regional efficiencies and economies of scale at local government level. Maseko said the amendments to these Bills would be submitted to Parliament soon.

Meanwhile, Cabinet also endorsed the report of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) covering the period July 2009-February 2010 as well as the draft National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). Maseko said the NTSS draft strategy will serve as a framework for sustainable tourism growth and development in South Africa for the next five years.

The report will be submitted to Parliament shortly and published thereafter.