Has the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of South Africa’s constitutional democracy?Posted: 23 July, 2020 Filed under: Paul Mudau | Tags: apartheid-era, Bill of Rights, Collins Khoza, constitutional democracy, coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID-19 pandemic, Cyril Ramaphosa, democracy, Disaster Management Act, extraordinary legal measures, Gary Pienaar, isolation measures, lockdown, lockdown regulations, National Disaster Management Centre, nationwide lockdown, pandemic, PCCC, South Africa, state of emergency, Table of Non-Derogable Rights 3 Comments
Author: Paul Mudau
PhD Candidate and Researcher, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand
On 15 March 2020, and while owing to medical and scientific advice and with the aim of controlling and managing the invasion and the spread of the invisible enemy, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa introduced extraordinary legal measures, placed the country under a nationwide lockdown and sealed its international borders. The lockdown took effect from 27 March 2020. The President simultaneously declared a national state of disaster in terms of section 27 of the Disaster Management Act (52 of 2002). Apart from the 1996 Constitution, the Disaster Management Act is applicable during lockdown together with other relevant statutes such as the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act 13 of 2013. This, was followed by a series of announcements and impositions of numerous lockdown Regulations and Directives that require hygienic practices, physical and social distancing, quarantine, and isolation measures.
A dark cloud or the promise of rain: Section 25 and the fate of land restitution in South AfricaPosted: 15 July, 2020 Filed under: Ross Booth | Tags: 1913 Land Act, amendment to section 25, ANC, costly lawsuits, COVID-19, expropriation of land without compensation, inequality in land ownership, Joint Constitutional Review Committee, Joint CRC, land, Land reform, land reformation, land restitution, lockdown, property, property ownership, Section 25, South Africa Leave a comment
Author: Ross Booth
Third year LLB student, University of KwaZulu-Natal
In recent years, there have been growing calls for land reformation and a fairer distribution of property in South Africa. Many have called for what is known as the expropriation of land without compensation, while others view this as an extremely dangerous and radical procedure. Despite the differences of opinion, we are currently observing what could become one of the most significant changes to land reform in the history of SA’s democracy. Seemingly given the backseat in light of our current struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, an amendment to section 25 of our Constitution is on the cards and could result in a variety of changes to the current state of land restitution.
As it stands, section 25 is a far-reaching provision of the Constitution that deals with security of tenure, property rights, and restitution for those previously discriminated against under colonial and Apartheid land practices. Section 25(1) begins by offering some assurance to property owners by stating:
“No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application, and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.”
Enforcement of lockdown regulations and law enforcement brutality in Nigeria and South AfricaPosted: 23 June, 2020 Filed under: Folasade Abiodun, Mary Izobo | Tags: accountability mechanisms, apartheid, coronavirus, COVID-19, enforcement officials, human rights violations, lawlessness, lockdown, lockdown regulations, medical facilities, Nigeria, pandemic, public health, public health interest, right to freedom of assembly, South Africa, use of force 1 Comment
Author: Mary Izobo and Folasade Abiodun
(An earlier version of this article was published by Daily Maverick)
Since January 2020, COVID-19 pandemic, has held the world to ransom and has posed a threat to public health. It has put a lot of pressure on available medical facilities with a record of more than 9 million persons infected and more than 470 000 deaths globally with numbers set to increase. In order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, several countries are taking measures such as the closure of airports, seaports and land borders, isolation and quarantining of persons, banning of religious, sporting and social gatherings, closure of schools and universities, restaurants, public spaces and complete or partial ‘lockdown’ of some countries. The lockdown of countries entails complete restriction of movement as the virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected persons or surfaces. Some of these measures as well as their enforcement , have implications on the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of assembly.
Academics and pandemics: A student’s perspective during the lockdownPosted: 26 May, 2020 Filed under: Ross Booth | Tags: academia, anxiety, contact learning, COVID-19, data bundles, demoralising, law, law student, LLB, lockdown, online learning, pandemic, stressful time, student, student life, students, UKZN, unemployment, work ethic, zoom calls Leave a comment
Author: Ross Booth
Third year LLB student, University of KwaZulu-Natal
For a lot of people (including myself) the 1st of January 2020 felt like a day that couldn’t come sooner. 2019 had been an especially difficult study year with the leap from first to second year comparable to an Olympic long jump. However, what I didn’t anticipate is that 2020 would spiral into disaster, almost from the get go.
UKZN students began the year in the usual fashion – one or two introductory lectures followed by an extra two weeks of holiday as our colleagues vented their frustration at the University and NSFAS respectively. However, the SRC and relevant university officials managed to quash the unrest relatively early on and lectures slowly began to commence accordingly. In conversation with a classmate shortly thereafter, I recall uttering the phrase “the worst is over” regarding the likelihood that the strikes would continue. As is always the case, good old Murphy was eavesdropping around a corner, holding his satchel of bad luck – preparing the unthinkable. And like clockwork, a virus initially described as a strong case of the sniffles managed to globetrot its way from Wuhan to sunny Durban – taking a few pit stops on the way. With that, the university was once again closed and lectures ground to a halt.
The impact of technology on mental health during COVID-19Posted: 22 May, 2020 Filed under: Foromo Frederic Loua, Johnson Mayamba, Mustapha Dumbuya | Tags: access to internet, anger, anxiety, costs of data, COVID-19, depressing information, depression, economic meltdown, face masks, information overload, insomnia, lockdown, movement restrictions, pandemic, South Africa, South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), stress, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Zoom Leave a comment
Authors: Mustapha Dumbuya, Johnson Mayamba & Foromo Frédéric Loua
As the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which by 14 May 2020 had recorded more than 4 million confirmed cases globally and claiming more than 300,000 lives. One can be tempted to say that the fight might still be far from ending. Even as researchers work tooth and nail to find a vaccine, with Madagascar claiming to have found a herbal cure, some have described such efforts as more of a marathon than a sprint. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that people may have to learn how to live with Covid-19 because it ‘may never go away.’
When the cases were fast-rising, governments around the world adopted various measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. On 26 March 2020, South Africa went into a 21-day total nationwide lockdown amid increasing cases of the pandemic. Other measures announced included wearing face masks and other forms of movement restrictions. The lockdown was later extended but it has since been eased since the beginning of May 2020 to ameliorate economic meltdown not only in South Africa but globally.
Apart from having a disastrous impact on economies, these measures come with a plethora of other challenges. The current social distancing policies have had a major impact on people’s lives and wellbeing, especially for those living alone or away from family and loved ones. COVID-19 related social and physical distancing could lead to a feeling of increased loneliness and depression.
COVID-19: How more access to the internet can reduce existing barriers for women’s rights in AfricaPosted: 4 May, 2020 Filed under: Nelly Warega, Tomiwa Ilori | Tags: Access to Information, access to information online, Africa, civil society organisations, coronavirus, COVID-19, CSOs, digital platforms, digital skills, domestic violence, health services, inequalities, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, internet access, Kenya, Lagos State Government Health Service Commission, lockdown, mainstream media, maternal health, maternal mortality, Mozambique, Nigeria, pandemic, PPE, PPEs, smart phones, South Africa, Uganda, women's rights Leave a comment
Authors: Nelly Warega* and Tomiwa Ilori**
*Legal Advisor, Women’s Link Worldwide
**Doctoral researcher, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
On 17 April 2020, a Twitter user tweeted about a hospital in Lagos that demanded personal protective equipment (PPE) from a woman seeking to give birth at the facility. The incident, according to the user happened at the General Hospital, Ikorodu, under the Lagos State Government Health Service Commission. The PPEs have become important for health workers given the surge in transmission COVID-19 across the world. However, despite the rising demand and scarcity of PPEs, a conversation on the propriety of placing the burden of procurement of PPEs on expectant mothers is vital.
Democracy in times of COVID-19: a time for introspection?Posted: 8 April, 2020 Filed under: Eduardo Kapapelo | Tags: Angola, basic services, China, COVID-19, democracy, global pandemic, government, health systems, human rights, Hungary, inequality, Institutions, lockdown, massive corruption, militarised society, national lockdowns, pandemic, political system, politics, WHO, World Health Organization Leave a comment
Author: Eduardo Kapapelo
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
My father used to say ‘politics must be conducted in a country which is open, a country which has the space for deliberation and opposing views’. He added that ‘politics must be conducted in a country which is mature’. We find ourselves in challenging times, times in which the openness and maturity of our countries are being tested.
A scale we can use to test the openness and maturity of our institutions is to interrogate (i), the nature our institutions; and (ii) the quality of our institutions. In regards to their nature we can reflect on how they are structured, what they look like on paper, and how they actually function in reality. As regards quality, we can reflect on how institutions respond to stress – how they respond to the demands of the people and whether they are mature enough to understand that when individuals take to the streets in the exercise of their human rights demanding better quality of life, they are not challenging the State, but rather exercise their constitutional right to be heard.