Criminal court judgment highlights Cabinet’s faulty approach to treaties
Ruling dictates that Parliament is ultimate arbiter when SA seeks to retract or tweak international promises
After S&P Global Ratings’ decision to downgrade SA’s sovereign credit rating to subinvestment grade ("junk" status), in swift response to "the executive changes initiated by President Zuma" on March 30, it is important to analyse the institutional weaknesses that allow the executive arm of government to go virtually unchecked in altering the country’s economic destiny, as well as how to correct them. Among the many judicial defeats the Zuma administration has suffered this year was a critical judgment by a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria in February, which found it was unconstitutional for the Cabinet unilaterally to terminate SA’s membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without prior approval by Parliament. Somewhat uncharacteristically, the Cabinet lodged no appeal against the judgment, leaving it a binding precedent on the proper procedure for SA to alter its international treaty relations. While the judgment has potentially derailed the government’s efforts...