The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg

There is growing concern about a new Cabinet decision to “assess” the rulings of the Constitutional Court.

In a statement on Thursday, the Cabinet announced that it agreed to the move as part of its approach “to the transformation of the judicial system”.

It said that it agreed “that the assessment of the decisions of the Constitutional Court be undertaken by a research institution to establish how the decisions of the court have impacted on the lives of ordinary citizens and how these decisions have influenced socio-economic transformation and the reform of the law”.

Activist Zackie Achmat warned that the “Cabinet statement on the judiciary and the Constitutional Court is a significant assault on our freedom”.

Government officials, including President Zuma, have accused the Constitutional Court of inappropriately making laws through rulings that have gone against the government.

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos, however, said on his blog that “on its face, this statement could be viewed as a positive development”.

He noted: “If a truly independent and reputable research institution conducts such an assessment, it will inevitably find that the decisions of the Constitutional Court – perhaps more than the actions of the legislature and the executive — have by and large impacted positively on the lives of ordinary citizens and have facilitated socio-economic transformation.”

The government said that more details on its “assessment” would be released in due course.

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