Government correct to appeal High Court ruling
ANC Today 28 March 2002
The government's approach to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal
against the Pretoria High Court's order on the provision of the drug
Nevirapine is important as it impacts on the broader constitutional issues
which the Constitutional Court is being asked to consider.
The action is necessary towards achieving legal clarity on the respective
powers and functions of the courts and the government. It is an assertion of
the constitutional basis of South African society, which many critics would
prefer to abandon in the interests of a particular agenda. Government would
indeed be irresponsible to give in to pressure to abandon this principle.
The Pretoria High Court ruled in December last year that government must
make Nevirapine available to all pregnant women in public health facilities.
The court ruled on Monday this week that government must proceed to execute
this order, even though the Constitutional Court is due to hear an appeal on
this matter on 2-3 May.
Government has made it clear that it has no intention of circumventing the
courts or delaying the resolution of the matter "by endless litigation".
"We have turned to the highest court in the land precisely because of our
belief in the judicial system and because we think the issues warrant this
kind of attention. We believe that the execution order is a constitutional
matter, or at least so intimately linked to the central constitutional
questions of the original case that it is a proper matter for the
Constitutional Court to deal with," Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
She said she was appointing a task team to guide and support the further
development of the programme on mother-to-child transmission of HIV within
norms and standards endorsed by all provinces.
The developments in the Nevirapine case have taken place in the context of a
concerted effort not to report the position of the ANC on HIV/AIDS. The
content of a of a statement released last week by the ANC National Executive
Committee on HIV/AIDS was largely ignored or misrepresented by many media
institutions. Instead of reporting accurately the position of the ANC on
AIDS, which is publicly available, several newspapers and broadcasters
reported views that don't reflect the position of the organisation. Other
represented the deliberations of the movement as some sort of battle between
'dissident' and 'mainstream' views on HIV/AIDS.
In the interests both of public understanding and the effectiveness of the
struggle against HIV/AIDS, it is essential that the media begins to report
accurately on the positions of the ANC and the programmes of government.