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)
13 March 2007

Parliamentary skinner…..

It seems the individuals who work as Chief Financial Officers of Parliament just can’t stay out of trouble. Last year, then Chief Financial Officer, Harry Charlton was fired, allegedly for being too open and honest about the Travel gate scandal (but that has not been conclusively established yet).

Now, the halls of Parliament are abuzz because of a remark (apparently made yesterday at a meeting of Parliamentary staff) by the newly appointed Chief Financial Officer. Apparently, addressing Parliamentary staff, she stated towards the end of her presentation that female staff in Parliament invited sexual harrasment because of the provocative way some of them were dressed.

This is, of course, such a horrid, stereotypically sexist, thing to say that it is difficult to imagine that any reasonably intelligent person in 2007 in South Africa would say such a thing with a straight face. Let alone a person employed in such an important position in Parliament. Such talk belongs at Kappie Kommando Rallies and at Jong Dames Dinamiek Bible study groups.

Maybe she was joking? Maybe she is deeply religious and was just channeling the Pope and all the other dead or half-dead reactionary men? Maybe she is a secret supporter of Mr Jacob Zuma or Mbulelo Goniwe and was just showing some solidarity with the trusted old patriarchs?

In any case, the mind boggles. Can Parliament really afford to employ a women who spouts such hateful sexism? It is unimaginable that Parlaiment would not fire a Chief Financial Officer who suggests, say, that all black people are dishonest. This statement is the gender equivalent of such an utterance and if Parliament is serious about gender equality the new Chief Financial Officer should soon be the ex Chief Financial Officer.

Then again, don’t hold your breath. Patriarchy is far from dead in South Africa – even (or maybe especially) in the halls of Parliament.

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