My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Either Mr Zuma and his executive are being deliberately obtuse to obscure their real intentions and attitude towards the independence of the judiciary, the doctrine of the separation of powers and the supremacy of the constitution, or the Presidency is in desperate need of advice from an experienced constitutional lawyer. The latter possibility — that Mr Zuma simply does not “get” the constitutional democracy concept and has failed to surround himself with people who do — cannot be excluded, despite the fact that the political party he heads was the primary driver of the process that led to the writing of the constitution. That internationally acclaimed document’s main authors were, and remain, sympathetic towards the freedom struggle and the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) stated goal of transforming SA politically, economically and socially to shed the vestiges of apartheid. There is therefore no shortage of constitutional experts in the tripartite alliance who would be happy to provide guidance on such matters, yet senior party leaders keep making statements that appear to question the core principles on which our democracy is based, and the executive keeps acting in ways that leave the Constitutional Court no choice but to overturn its decisions. – Business Day editorialBACK TO TOP