Modise not attending meeting she asked for
An invitation was extended to Parliament to attend this month’s meeting between the executive and the judiciary, but the presiding officers are strangely unavailable.
This was revealed by presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola after queries about whether a date had been set for a meeting between the three arms of state – as requested by National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise more than two months ago.
Majola said the presidency understood that both Modise and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete would not be available for the meeting, scheduled to be hosted by President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria on August 27, “due to prior parliamentary commitments”.
“The meeting between the executive and judiciary will thus go ahead as announced to the nation,” said Majola, who added that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had invited the parliamentary leaders.
“I am sure that a suitable date will be sought for all three arms of the state to meet as soon as possible to discuss issues that concern all three,” he said in a written reply to questions.
Modise said in an interview with City Press in June that she had appealed to President Zuma to convene a meeting of the three arms of state to iron out certain issues. She expressed frustration about “interference” from the judiciary, but also said that Parliament felt undermined by the executive, was hampered by a shortage of funding and resources, and needed to improve coordination with the executive.
She said the legislature should not feel like a “Cinderella” between the two other arms of state. “Parliament has not been told it is the junior of the three partners,” she said.
This week, Modise’s spokesperson, Tsepiso Shuenyane, said Parliament was “working on arranging the meeting”.
Asked to comment on the August 27 invite, she said she could do so by tomorrow.
More light may be shed on Modise’s comments during a debate next month on the constitutional mandate of Parliament, the decorum of the institution and the functions of presiding officers. DA leader in the national council of provinces Elza van Lingen tabled a motion calling for the debate in the wake of Modise’s statements.
The August 27 meeting was also requested by Mogoeng following attacks on the judiciary by senior politicians within the tripartite alliance and specifically Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who said: “Some elements of the judiciary meet with characters to produce certain judgments.”
He said the heads of court and senior judges of all divisions had requested that he meet the head of state “to point out and discuss the dangers of the repeated and unfounded criticism of the judiciary”.