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
17 September 2008

Panic among Mbeki appointees….

I received the following sms purporting to come from a panicked Mbeki appointee. Can it be true?

Am informed that the NWC has resolved as follows: 1. Thabo must go. 2. Baleka to take over. 3. Don’t prefer clauses 89 & 102 cos of possible early election. 4. Committee set up 2 look @ other possibilities including constitutional changes. 5. TM 2 be informed as soon as he’s back. 6. Certain ministers & premiers 2 be approached 2 stay 2 avoid exodus. It is time we move out of our comfort zone & face the reality of us all leaving sooer (sic) than we think!

I am a bit skeptical that this is what the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ANC really decided. This is because if it true, it suggests the NWC is desperately in need of a constitutional law adviser. (Hey, I won’t charge you guys that much – just ask!)

First, if President Mbeki resigns, the Speaker, Baleka Mbete, cannot take over as Acting President because the Deputy President and then a Minister selected by the cabinet is in line before the Speaker for the job of Acting President if only the President resigns. Second, if the President is removed in terms of section 89 or 102, we do not necessarily have to have an election – as long as a new President is elected by the National Assembly within 30 days of the resignation.

Regardless of the personal drama and tragedy of these events, it is a boon for anyone teaching Constitutional Law. Finally students will be able to see that these provisions in the Constitution relating to the President’s election and dismissal actually mean something!

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