Quote of the week

As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.

Khampepe J
Zuma v Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State and Others (CCT 52/21) [2021] ZACC 28 (17 September 2021)
8 February 2007

Xolela Mangcu nails it

Xolela Mangcu hits the nail on the head today in his column in Business Day regarding the FNB saga. I like his idea that we are all afraid of our freedom. Money quote:

We are a paranoid society — afraid of each other, afraid of the name-calling, afraid of losing business, afraid of our own shadows, and afraid of our own freedom.

This will not change for as long as the fundamentals of fear and intolerance are in place. Today it is FNB, and tomorrow it will be somebody else. The bottom line is that those who rule over us do not trust us or respect us enough to let us make up our own minds. Let FNB publish what they will, and trust us to decide whether to go along with it or not. That is the true meaning of freedom.

Of course President Mbeki and the intellectuals in his circle would argue that we do have much to be afraid of because in order to truly transform the state and society, we need to address and attack the hegemonic power of the old guard. Because the reactionary ideas and values of this old guard still hold sway and dictates public discourse to the detriment of true transformation, we ignore it and allow it to flourish at our peril.

Like Mr Mangcu I believe this is an unecessary defensive position to take. In a democracy we cannot by fiat change the balance of forces in society. We have to engage and argue with one another.

If one is the President of a powerful governing party one has a lot of scope to make an impact. But in a democracy one does not get one’s way all the time – even if one is the President.

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