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)
27 June 2008

SABC and the ANC – dangerous moves

News reports suggest that the ANC in Parliament wants to amend the Broadcasting Act to give Parliament the power to hire and fire the SABC Board.

This is a dangerous and astonishingly stupid idea because it would make the SABC Board directly beholden to the majority party in Parliament. If the National Assembly can fire the SABC board they will be tempted top put pressure on the board to toe the party line or be fired. This will scupper any last vestige of independence at His Masters Voice.

Can one trust any majority partuy in parliament not to abuse such power? The answer is, of course, that one cannot. Besides section 192 of the Constitution states that national legislation must establish an independent authority to regulate broadcasting in the public interest, and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society.

This suggests that broadcasting must occur in the public interest and that the SABC should not be beholden to the majority party whims in Parliament.

What is required is not more political control of the SABC but LESS political control. The reason why there is such a mess at the SABC is exactly because Mbeki forced the National Assembly to appoint a Board it had not selected. This was probably illegal but now it is a bit late to do anything about it.

Much better would be to amend the Broadcasting Act to ensure that the appointment of the SABC Board is de-politicised. But the chances of this happening is about as slim as the chances of Robert Mugabe having tea with Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ai politicians. What did we do to deserve them?

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