A DA MP has called on parliament to review the special remuneration arrangement that allows judges to earn their salaries for life.
Speaking during a meeting of an ad hoc committee that is processing a draft code of conduct which seeks to compel judges to declare all their financial interests, the DA’s MP in the National Council of Provinces, Denis Joseph, said a strong message needed to be sent out to the members of the judiciary that they were not untouchable.
"I think it’s important we tell these judges [that there are] many other laws we are changing, many systems we are changing. The judges must also realise that this new parliament is going to deal with them in terms of fairness and equality [for] all people who work for the state,” Joseph said.
As matters stand, the president, deputy president, chief justice, and Constitutional Court and high court judges are entitled to salaries for life.
Joseph made his remarks following a presentation by Justice Department official Johan de Lange, who briefed the committee on the rationale behind the proposed draft regulations to compel active and retired judges to declare any remuneration earned outside their work, as well as the business interests of their spouses and children.
De Lange emphasised that it was crucial for the government to force all judges to declare outside earnings because they continued to benefit from the public purse for life in terms of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act of 2001. He said such a remuneration framework was unique to South Africa and was protected by the constitution.