Chapter 9 institutions: for the sake of accountability and constitutional democracy

Author: Kenneth Sithebe
Candidate Attorney, Centre for Child Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice beneath new generations. – Solzhenitsyn

It is in the wake of the Public Protector’s findings regarding an upgrade to the President Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla that, the importance and our tolerance for Chapter 9 institutions comes to the fore. Having presented her findings to the public, the Public Protector was hailed by some as a heroin to a South Africa that is ridden with corruption, whilst some questioned her credibility and the integrity of her office. It is submitted that these debates are ordinary in a vibrate democracy like South Africa’s and should be welcome. However, what should not be welcome are unsubstantiated remarks aimed at undermining the office of the Public Protector, or any of the other Chapter 9 institutions, namely, the South African Human Rights Commission; the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; Commission for Gender Equality; the Auditor General; and Electoral Commission. These institutions, as provided for in section 181 of the Constitution, form a cornerstone to the sustenance of democracy and are important for the full realisation of other democratic principles such as accountability, respect for the rule of law and human rights.

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I do not agree with what [Malema has] to say but I will defend to the death [his] right to say it – Voltaire

Author: Kenneth Sithebe
Student Assistant, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

The rule of law is the overarching concern as regards the events in Marikana- after other issues such as: the arrest and charge of the miners only to be released later (see article by Killander on AfricLaw), human dignity, the right to assemble and the right to life were raised. It was appalling to see a South African turned away from a lawful gathering under dubious legal grounds (Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993) and on the pretence that he ‘might’ incite striking miners to commit a criminal offence. Julius Malema was turned away by police at the Wonderkop stadium, Marikana after he tried to attend a gathering by the striking miners, and possibly to address them.

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