Minister Lamola sends a message of appreciation while tabling OCJ’s budget to the National Assembly

June 23rd, 2021

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, tabled the budget of the National Department: Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) to the National Assembly on 18 May 2021. He said that even though the budgets across government have been restricted and resources have been redirected to respond to the national COVID-19 emergency, the department had to be innovative and develop new ways of operating in order for the courts to be operational under the new normal.

Mr Lamola pointed out that during the period of COVID-19 his department has prioritised its budget and operations to ensure that the delivery of core services – namely, support to the courts – is not negatively affected. He said that the budget consists of R 1,211 billion for voted funds and further R 1,118 billion for the judges’ remuneration, which is a direct charge to the National Revenue Fund. Mr Lamola added that the Superior Courts, Judicial Education and support are allocated 81,14% of the total budget and that a budget reduction of R 30 million on goods and services and payment for capital assets was already implemented on the operational budget during the special COVID-19 adjusted budget.

Mr Lamola, however, said that during the period of COVID-19 there has been an increase in operational pressure in the courts and this has necessitated a dynamic approach when implementing the mandate. ‘In the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework budget, the Compensation of Employees budget of the department was reduced by R 263,69 million (14,9%) and the budget of the judge’s salaries was reduced by R 334,238 million (14,6%). The operational budget experienced further reductions of R 32 742 million representing a further reduction of 3,4%,’ Mr Lamola added.

Mr Lamola pointed out that despite the difficult economic and public health complications, his department is more than determined to serve the nation and deliver strongly on a Constitutional promise. ‘This year our nation celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The first democratically elected Constitutional Assembly adopted this Constitution in 1994 in this House,’ Mr Lamola said.

Mr Lamola added that the celebration of the Constitution with its commitment to the rule of law and the protection of human rights would be insufficient if the country did not celebrate the country’s strong and independent judiciary, which delivers justice impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice. He said that the judiciary are without a doubt the guardians of South Africa’s Constitution. Mr Lamola said that the OCJ, is one of the measures the state put in place to support the judiciary in discharging its important responsibility.

Mr Lamola pointed out that in line with s 165(4) of the Constitution, the OCJ has continued to provide support to the judiciary to ensure effective and efficient court administration services despite the difficult conditions. He added that this has been made possible by the Chief Justice’s Directives and various measures put in place by government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among other things he spoke about in his budget, Mr Lamola extended words of appreciation to Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, who is currently on long leave, as he retires in 2021, for his astute leadership of the judiciary. Mr Lamola wished Chief Justice Mogoeng well for the future.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.