An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
The Free State has passed legislation disbursing R30 million to political parties for the election and this R30 million has already been distributed among the political parties in the Free State. This is, how shall I put it, illegal and unconstitutional. It is also unconscionable, given the fact that the Free State has stopped putting new patients on ARV’s in November last year because it claims to have run out of money and about 30 people die every day because of this decision.
Every political party who illegally received this money must return it forthwith – or maybe they can buy ARVs with the money and donate it to the relevant Free State hospitals. That way they might actually save some lives and the illegal act might actually do some good.
Provincial Legislatures do not have any powers except those given to it by the Constitution and it can therefore not make any laws except on any issue clearly defined in the Constitution. Section 104 of the Constitution makes clear that Provincial Legislatures can only pass legislation for its province with regard to those functional areas set out in schedule 4 or 5 of the Constitution or otherwise assigned to it by the national parliament.
Schedule 4 and 5 deals with important issues like housing, health services, education and casinos (and some not so important issues like abattoirs and provincial sport) but says nothing about elections. Just to underline this blindingly obvious fact, section 236 of the Constitution states that:
To enhance multi-party democracy, national legislation must provide for the funding of political parties participating in national and provincial legislatures on an equitable and proportional basis.
One needs not be a constitutional lawyer to understand this. One only needs to be able to read and have a wish to obey the Constitution. Members of the Free State Legislature apparently lack one of these vital attributes and would therefore rather breach the Constitution than, say, save the lives of people dying of Aids.
I trust the national treasury will instruct the political parties to return this money they have stolen from the people forthwith and will instruct the legislature to use this money for something legal – like saving lives. Meanwhile the bright spark who came up with this idea should be fired. If it happens to be an ANC politician in the province one would hope that the new ANC under Jacob Zuma will put its money where its mouth is and will discipline the comrade.
If they do not want to expel this member so soon before the election, they might order him or her to go and work in the mortuary to help bury the citizens of the Free State who are dying every day because of the financial mismanagement in that province.
Just a thought.BACK TO TOP