Quote of the week

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.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
8 March 2007

One day they will have full democracy too…

MPs in the British House of Commons yesterday delivered a historic vote in favour of a wholly-elected House of Lords, setting themselves up for a confrontation with peers that could lead to the most radical change to the upper house for 96 years.

It is by far not certain that this plan will actually be implemented, so Britain may still be stuck with an unelected upper house of Parliament for years to come. If Zimbabwe had such a constitutional arrangements, everyone and his aunty would have had a fit. But of course, Britain is seen as “civilised” (why that would be, I cannot tell), so having an unelected house of Parliament is not seen as undemocratic.

A few years ago when the Commons voted to lower the age of consent for same sex sexual activity to bring it in line with heterosexual sex the Lords vetoed the Act, so it is not as if they have no power or never use their power. But then, what does one expect of a country whose leader has been a cheerleader for George W Bush?

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