Quote of the week

It is necessary that the integrity of the electoral process be maintained. Indeed, the acceptance of the election as being free and fair depends upon that integrity. Elections must not only be free and fair but they must be perceived as being free and fair. Even-handedness in dealing with all political parties and candidates is crucial to that integrity and its perception by voters. The Commission must not be placed in a situation where it has to make ad hoc decisions about political parties and candidates who have not complied with the Act. The requirement that documents must be submitted to the local offices of the Commission does not undermine the right to vote and to stand for election. It simply gives effect to that right and underscores the decentralised and local nature of municipal elections.

Ngcobo CJ
Electoral Commission of the Republic of South Africa v Inkatha Freedom Party
24 April 2007

African Court still not up and running

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights is far from being a reality, Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe said on Tuesday. According to iafrica website the Court will only be up and running towards the end of the year:

“The court only exists on paper,” said Ngoepe, who is one of the 11 judges from all over Africa sworn in July last year to serve on the court. “There are no premises, no staff, nothing. We had to start from scratch with the budget, which is time consuming,” he said at an Institute of Security Studies seminar in Pretoria.

The interesting question is what is going to happen once the Court starts hearing cases and begins to enforce the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. What happens if that court, for example, hears a case from Doctors for Life about South Africa’s abortion law or the same-sex marriage law?

In the same-sex marriage case the Court said that it would be a perversion of justice if International law is used to limit the rights of South Africans, so this should mean the African Court should not be able to take away existing rights. But a decision of that court could give political impetus to reactionary forces in South Africa and could reopened discussions about controversial matters.

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