The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has strongly condemned the personal attacks on Judge Bashier Vally, who was accused of “corruption” for his ruling that President Jacob Zuma must provide reasons for firing Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister.
Judge Vally on Thursday last week gave the president five days to provide the DA with the record and reasons for his midnight March 31 decision to fire Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas ahead of the DA’s court application to have the decision set aside as irrational.
The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and My Vote Counts (MVC) non-profit company have meanwhile also launched an application in the Constitutional Court, seeking to set aside the President’s decision, to declare that the President and the National Assembly had violated their constitutional duties and for the court to force the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, to start a process aimed at removing President Jacob Zuma from office.
Judge Vally was severely criticised by a branch of the ANC Youth League and former government spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi, who claimed the ruling was proof that there was corruption within the judiciary.
Many suggested in an ANN7 interview that Vally might have communicated with Save South Africa ahead of the case but did not provide evidence to substantiate his claims.
The LSSA noted Zuma’s announcement that he had filed an application for leave to appeal against the ruling and said it was his right to do so, but stressed that it was established law that executive decisions were subject to a challenge based on legality and rationality, as the president had conceded.
“Even if this was not the case, we are shocked by the disturbing accusations against Judge Vally – and the judiciary in general – and regard them as an attack on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary,” LSSA co-chairpersons Walid Brown and David Bekker said in a statement.
They said if the complainants felt strongly about their convictions, they should submit their complaints with full grounds to the Judicial Service Commission for urgent investigation, as this was the correct body to investigate such serious allegations against a judge.
The LSSA also urged the African National Congress and the government to distance themselves from these “irresponsible” public statements, which they said must be seen as an attack on the judiciary in the absence of substantiated allegations.
The DA has meanwhile threatened to seek an enforcement order against President Zuma if he did not adhere to the court order.