Thank you House Chair, the Office of the Chief Justice, OCJ and Judicial Administration, was established primarily, to support the Chief Justice in executing his/her administrative and judicial duties as Head of the Judiciary and Head of the Constitutional Court. The Africa Christian Democratic Party, ACDP,
wishes to commend the judiciary and the OCJ for the support that they provide. The Judiciary has not wavered in holding the Executive and even Parliament accountable and has been a bulwark against state capture and reckless executive decisions.
We fully support the courts for holding Ministers and officials personally liable for legal costs caused by reckless political decisions, such as the South African Social Security Agency, SASSA pension and welfare grants scandal. The OCJ is allocated an annual budget of R2.3 billion for this financial year. The ACDP shares concerns expressed by the committee in its report and the Judiciary, that it is under funded. We've heard of dilapidated courts and we have seen the shortage of tools of trade such as law reports and this in our view is unacceptable. The ACDP also understands that the Secretary-General was not able to respond to certain queries during the briefing to the committee, relating to court performance as this lies in the domain of the Chief Justice.
Members from the previous committee who attended the Chief Justice's briefing in this regard, in November last year, also felt that at that occasion, there was insufficient time to engage with the Chief Justice on these and other matters of mutual concern. The recommendation was then made that, through the Speaker's Office, the
portfolio committee and Parliament should meet with the Chief Justice and the Heads of Court and this has been the practice over the years. This recommendation was accepted by the committee and we look forward to such a meeting taking place before the end of the year. We would like to add that representatives of the Magistracy also attend that meeting.
A further matter which should concern all of us in Parliament and those that serve in this committee, is the delay in amending laws which the Constitutional Court has found to be constitutionally wanting and were sent back to Parliament. Following such a judgement, the relevant departments proposed amendments which Parliament must then pass within a specified time limit However; there are inordinate delays from the Executive's side which places enormous pressure on Parliament. In certain cases, certain departments have approached the court for an extension of the period and that extension has been refused, because the department in the view of the Constitutional Court has not done enough to propose legislation. However, one needs to remember that the court order was given against Parliament, to remedy that legislation. And it is Parliament that will then seem to be non- compliant with those court orders. This is a matter that requires Parliament to closely exercise oversight over the department as it would not be good for
Parliament to appear as though in contempt of court, through no fault of its own.
In conclusion, the ACDP would like to thank all the members and officials who are involved in the judiciary in both the higher and lower courts who dispense justice on a daily basis often under very trying and difficult conditions. It is much appreciated. The ACDP supports this budget vote. Thank you.