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.
If Jacob Zuma is elected President of South Africa sometime next year, some of us will probably bemoan the fact that the voters had entrusted a man facing very serious criminal charges (carrying a 15 year compulsory jail term) with the most important job in the country. The Afro-pessimists will mutter that “only in Africa” this kind of thing can happen.
But that would, of course, be rubbish. After all, Sylvio Berlusconi was re-elected prime Minister of Italy despite his various legal troubles. Even more interesting, I note that it now seems likely (though incredible), that septuple felon Ted Stevens has in fact won his Alaska Senate race against Democrat Mark Begich., Stevens had already been convicted, yet it seems as if he will be re-elected to the US Senate.
This does not make a Zuma Presidency admirable or wise and neither does it validate the outragous decision by the ANC NEC to back Zuma for the Presidency regardless of what happens with his court case. However, it does place it in perspective. After all, although Schabir Shaik has already been convicted of corrupting Zuma, Zuma has not been convicted of any crime – unlike Stevens.
It places South African voters on par with the voters of Alaska – who has elected Sarah Palin as its Governor. This does not flatter South African (or Alaskan) voters, but neither does it signal the end of the world either. Potential or real crooks seem to populate politics all over the world….
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