Quote of the week

Universal adult suffrage on a common voters roll is one of the foundational values of our entire constitutional order. The achievement of the franchise has historically been important both for the acquisition of the rights of full and effective citizenship by all South Africans regardless of race, and for the accomplishment of an all-embracing nationhood. The universality of the franchise is important not only for nationhood and democracy. The vote of each and every citizen is a badge of dignity and of personhood. Quite literally, it says that everybody counts. In a country of great disparities of wealth and power it declares that whoever we are, whether rich or poor, exalted or disgraced, we all belong to the same democratic South African nation; that our destinies are intertwined in a single interactive polity.

Justice Albie Sachs
August and Another v Electoral Commission and Others (CCT8/99) [1999] ZACC 3
15 September 2022

The core problem with the majority judgment in EFF II is that the majority’s public reasons for its judgment are insufficient to explain the case’s outcome. It handed down a judgment that intruded on the ambit of the legislature’s authority and intervened in the highly political impeachment process; without having carefully set out legally legitimate reasons for doing so. The majority’s expressed reasons failed to substantiate the outcome at which it arrived, leaving a ‘reasoning vacuum’ waiting to be filled by competing hypotheses. One potential hypothesis gives the Court the benefit of the doubt: the majority, though handing down a ‘troubling’ decision ‘not justifiable from a ‘traditional’ separation of powers perspective’, was ultimately acting to reinforce the democratic process, in acknowledgement that Parliament had egregiously failed in its duty, as representative of the people, to hold political elites to account.

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