Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
10 November 2006

Weird Civil Union compromise

The compromise Civil Union Bill, devised by the ANC study group and approved by the Home Affairs Porfolio Committee yesterday, is a weird piece of legislation. It creates a Civil Union open to anyone which can be “registered by way of either marriage or a civil partnership”.

This means that heterosexuals will be able to get married either via the Marraige Act or the Civil Union Bill while homosexuals can only get married via th elatter legislation. But for anyone who, for some bizarre reason or another, wishes not to get married but to conclude a civil partnership only, the Civil Union Bill will be the only legislation that one could rely on.

Obviously those in the ANC who wanted to adhere to the Constitutional Court judgement and who understood that anything less than marriage for same-sex couples would not do, managed to convince the Johnny De Lange’s of the world to explicitly provide for “marriage” in the Bill. But in return they had to the ridiculous option of either registering a civil partnership or a marriage.

How many people will actually register a civil partnership instead of a marriage? Can’t imagine who would do such a thing.

But perhaps the new version will pass constitutional muster because it does provide for same-sex marriage, albeit in a seperate law. But because the law is open to all – not just same-sex couples, and because it allows same-sex couples to register a marriage, it probably provide for the protection of same-sex relationship in a sufficient manner.

Section 6, however, is most probably unconstitututional. It allows non-religious marraige officers from refusing to solmnisise a marriage for religious reasons. Poor same-sex couples in small conservative towns will find it difficult to get anyone to marry them. Surely its not acceptable.

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