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.
I am reliably told that the ANC will announce in the next hour or two that President Thabo Mbeki will resign as President of the country. If this is correct, the big question then is what happens to the Deputy President and his cabinet and who will act as President until a new President is elected.
The Times reports this morning that Baleka Mbete will take over as acting President, but as I read the Constitution this is not possible unless the entire cabinet resigns as well. Even then the Speaker can only act as President until the National Assembly designates another of its members as acting President. The reason for this is that the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive makes it unwise for the Speaker of Parliament to head the national executive and only requires this as a last resort for as short a period as possible.
The SABC plans a live broadcast to carry this announcment. We will then hear what wil happen next and what the position of the cabinet is in all of this.BACK TO TOP