Quote of the week

Senekal last week had nothing to do with solutions. It was all about politicians’ testosterone. It was all about politicians’ egos. What useful idea came out of all that heat and noise generated by all those politicians in Senekal last week? There is nothing. Nothing that makes SA a better place. Nothing that leads us to a better understanding of race relations in SA after 1994. Nothing that is a solution to farm murders – many of whose victims are poorly paid, desperate black people – or a solution to the incredibly horrendous murder and crime problem in this country.

Justice Malala
Sunday Times Daily
14 November 2011

Human rights lawyer Geoff Budlender SC says courts should be seen as institutions that strengthen rather than undermine democracy, notes a Business Day report. Budlender said that in a participatory democracy, the courts played a crucial role as a ‘critical mechanism of accountability’ to the people. The Constitution gave the executive the function of developing and implementing policy, but this did not mean that every policy could claim a genuine democratic mandate, he said. According to the report, Budlender said his four years’ experience as a civil servant had shown him ‘it was unelected officials like me who made many of the most significant decisions’ on policy. The theory that the executive had ‘a monopoly of wisdom on policy questions, based on a democratic mandate, strikes me as somewhat remote from reality’, he said. Budlender added if courts were to live up to their role in democratising society, they needed to make judgments that did not undermine the other constitutional imperative – that the government should be able to govern. – Business Day

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