Quote of the week

Once the powers and functions have been assigned, the Deputy President and Ministers are responsible for the executive powers and functions assigned to them. These provisions make plain that members of the Cabinet are accountable independently and collectively to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and performance of their functions. For good measure, section 92(3) of the Constitution restates the obvious which is that, when they exercise the powers assigned to them, members of the Cabinet must act in accordance with the Constitution. This is significant because once Cabinet ministers are assigned powers and functions by the President they are not mere vassals of the President. They bear the duty and the responsibility to fulfil the duties and functions so assigned which in practice take the form of political and executive leadership of specified state departments. The Constitution makes the point that besides the duty to account to the head of the national executive, cabinet ministers bear the responsibility to report and account to Parliament on how they execute their executive duties.

Moseneke DCJ
Von Abo v President of the Republic of South Africa (CCT 67/08) [2009] ZACC 15; 2009 (10) BCLR 1052 (CC) ; 2009 (5) SA 345 (CC) (5 June 2009)
22 December 2008

Mugabe, Mbeki, murder

In the letter written by ex President Thabo Mbeki to the ANC after he was fired as President he listed Robert Mugabe – who pretends to be the legitimate President of Zimbabwe – as one of the heroes he has had the honour to interact with. Can one tell the quality of a person by his or her heroes? Probably yes.

So when the New York Times reported this morning that a new survey has found that hunger is wide spread in that country, I could not help but wonder what Mbeki would say to this. The report states:

The survey, recently provided to international donors, found that the proportion of people who had eaten nothing the previous day had risen to 12 percent from zero, while those who had consumed only one meal had soared to 60 percent from only 13 percent last year.

For almost three months, from June to August, Mr. Mugabe banned international charitable organizations from operating, depriving more than a million people of food and basic aid after the country had already suffered one of its worst harvests.

Mr. Mugabe defended the suspension by arguing that some Western aid groups were backing his political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who bested him at the polls in March but withdrew before a June 27 runoff. But civic groups and analysts said Mr. Mugabe’s real motive was to clear rural areas of witnesses to his military-led crackdown on opposition supporters and to starve those supporters.

Can one remain a heroe if one has contributed so starkly to this state of affairs? Apparently one can if one inhabits the moral universe of Thabo Mbeki. Thank goodness we are rid of him.

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