The Attorney General has hailed the judiciary for its readiness in handling the landmark constitutional case regarding the election of the vice-president, the speaker of the national assembly, and the deputy, subsequent to last yearsâ€™ polls.
Speaking at the opening of the legal year on Tuesday, Dr Athalia Molokomme said the speed the case was dispersed bore testimony to the judiciary’s readiness, willingness and ability to rule quickly and decisively whenever there were differing interpretations between stakeholders on the law, especially the Constitution.
“I must further thank you (Chief Justice) and the Judge President of the Court of Appeal for having put everything in place to deal expeditiously with the litigation that followed the general election, which resolved the impasse in the legal position regarding the election of the Vice President, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, and enabled Parliament to sit after a short delay,” she said.
Further, Molokomme commended the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for a job well done in the 2014 elections since there were no election petitions. She added that the IEC’s good work was further reflected in the willingness of candidates to accept the results of the elections.
“I am especially indebted to the Court of Appeal for the guidance they provided in their ground breaking judgment on the interpretation of sections 74, 76 and 89 of the Constitution.
As the highest court in the land, they settled, once and for all, the relationship between the Constitution and the Parliamentary Standing Orders,” Molokomme said.
At the time of the case legal experts revealed that three High Court judges - Lakvinder Singh Walia, Michael Leburu and Tebogo Tau, had worked around the clock, and were applauded by both the applications and the defendants.
When the matter unfolded, an experienced legal expert was on record saying, “As we speak, they are burning the midnight oil, working on crafting and polishing the judgment.
“The judgment has to do justice to the various arguments made and they have to say ‘this point is valid, or this point is not valid’. The oral arguments would have helped in shaping the preliminary view the judges already had, having applied themselves to the case”.
Molokomme said delays in delivery of judgments were worrisome and that those concerned needed to expedite their delivery.
“Timeous delivery of written judgments and rulings also avoids the undesirable gap between the oral pronouncement of the decision and the written, signed version, a situation which regrettably sometimes arises, and leads to contestation,” she said.
Meanwhile, the escalating number of child maintenance cases, uncollected maintenance payments and the staggering amount in the Guardians Fund were said to be a major concern for government. Molokomme said the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security had been in consultations with the Accountant General and suggested ways of improving collection methods.
“Be that as it may, it is my considered view that we should not be having so many maintenance cases in the first place. I appeal to all parents, who are mostly fathers not married to the children’s mother, and who are not supporting their children, to take up their parental responsibilities without reminders and coercion,” she pleaded.
She added that it was ironic that the monthly payments in many cases were much less than the custodian parents’ travel costs to the point of collection.
The Attorney General further opined that the time had come to amend the Affiliation Proceedings Act to revisit the minimum amount of P100 per month, which regrettably some judicial officers appear to treat as a standard.