The office of the Chief State Law Advisor has lamented on the embarrassing manner in which politicians and political groups tend to interfere in its lawful decisions and how government lawyers take cases to court that have no merit because they fear politicians and directors-general.
Latest reports released by the Public Service Commission (PSC) proves that there has been a growing complain by the SA government’s official legal advisers about the undue pressure they are put under by politicians which is now becoming an embarrassment to the court.
The recent report titled “Assessment on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor” explained how State law advisors are now in dire need to safeguard their independence from the Department of Justice and be shielded from political interference.
The report also revealed that they also want to be more independent and objective when offering legal advice to eliminate the perception that they are “executive-minded”.
It’s no doubt that the South African politics has turned more violent with much political ill feelings which has now cut across various important departments of the government including the legal departments.
The Chief State Law Advisor Enver Daniels provides legal advice, representation and legislative drafting services to the executive, all national and provincial government departments, municipalities, state-owned entities and independent or autonomous bodies that may refer work to it.
But a Pretoria Bar member told the PSC that state attorneys oppose matters where there is no merit and act against the advice that is given to them by senior counsel and fear politicians and directors-general, and end up taking up matters that have no merit to court.
Corrupt state lawyers are also said to be demanding at least R3000 in kickbacks to brief private legal practitioners to represent the government while others are given work because of political connections.
“There are several allegations that some advocates from this category (previously disadvantaged) seem to be given substantially more briefs, or briefs of a more complex nature, than others depending on their political affiliation or “kickbacks” paid,” another report titled “Assessment on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Office of the State Attorney” stated.
It also made mention of a member of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) who said that the criteria for being selected for a brief is unknown “except that you must offer kickbacks”. State attorneys have also complained that they are understaffed, with only 300 across the country when 2487 are needed.
However, Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhagaclaimed not to be aware of the PSC reports, while BLA president Lutendo Sigogo could not immediately respond when asked for comment.