Budget Vote 23 - Justice and Constitutional Development

By Hon Narend Singh MP

   

5th May 2010

 

Honourable Speaker

 

The IFP joins other speakers in thanking all persons who have been involved in Justice during the past year and we wish them well for the year ahead.

 

We must not forget that Justice and Constitutional development are the very pillars of our democracy in South Africa. Democracy is built and flourishes around the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution. The Department of Justice as custodian of these foundational pillars must ensure that they are protected and continually strengthened.

 

The IFP is very concerned that the department is not doing enough in this respect.

 

Civil justice is far too costly and unnecessarily prolonged by outmoded court procedures. In addition, many courts lack the necessary resources required in order to operate efficiently, which leads to delays, unnecessary financial burdens and results in justice being delayed, which is justice denied.

 

Criminal Justice suffers from a lack of manpower, poorly trained prosecutors and court staff and in some cases incompetent magistrates. We hope that it was just a case of incompetence that allowed a man of certain notoriety to flee to Namibia. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.

 

We suggest that the Department of Justice should start to play a more active role in the Judicial Reform process. It seems as if this aspect of its portfolio, which is one of the Departments core functions, has been left for the Constitutional Judges to deal with.

 

Regarding the implementation of new laws assigned to the Department of Justice such as the Child Justice Act, we have only two words to say "very poor"! Going forward we urge the department to plan correctly and communicate effectively with all stakeholders so that we do not have a repeat of such a situation.

 

The Masters office is yet another thorn in the side of efficient civil service. Its function at best is antiquated and for the most part wholly unnecessary, in fact, it does not even exist in most civil law countries.

 

Lack of communication between the National Prosecuting Authority and the Ministry indicates to us a breakdown in the relationship between the two offices. This is not conducive to an effective Department or prosecuting authority and we urge the Minister to attend to and resolve this matter forthwith.

 

The IFP is conscious of the fact that the Minister has inherited a failing Department from his predecessor, but blaming the past is the weakest of excuses. We therefore urge the Minister to seize the reins of the Department and to bring order out of this chaos.

 

The IFP supports the vote.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact:
Mr Narend Singh MP
083 788 5954