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)
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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