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The Centre for Constitutional Rights writes regular articles on topical issues, participates in the national debate on constitutional issues and interacts with government and interested groups with a view to upholding constitutional rights and values.

190529 CFCR INVITE optTHE CONSTITUTION @ WORK

Join us for the first in a series of breakfast discussions for 2019 hosted by the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). 

Topic: Post Elections 2019 - Finding our Way Back to a Constitutional Democracy
Unpacking critical reforms needed, potential cabinet appointments, priorities for the 6th democratic Parliament and managing the expectations of citizens

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World Press Freedom Day is commemorated on 3 May annually to emphasise the fundamental principles of press freedom, to defend the media from attacks on its independence, to evaluate the state of press freedom across the globe and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty and continue to brave unsafe digital and physical spaces for the sake of the truth.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has identified this year’s theme as “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. This theme could not be more apt as numerous democracies, including South Africa, gear up for election season. For the majority of voters across the world, the press remains the sole source of information about the political parties contesting elections. From the individuals seeking election, to the manifestos of the parties, containing promises and assurances in exchange for votes come polling day. The discerning and privileged voter has the tools by which to analyse the information available and make informed decisions.

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Environmental rights are protected in the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution. Whilst all the protected rights and freedoms have the common thread of “protection for all”, only section 24 of the Constitution (right to a healthy environment) includes the caveat “for the benefit of present and future generations”. No other right or freedom covers future generations so explicitly or expressly (although it can be inferred that they are catered for regardless). The writers of the Bill of Rights were mindful of the importance of a sustainable planet, to allow for an inhabitable earth for those yet to come. 

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According to a statement by the Presidency of 26 April 2019, the President notified Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi on 25 April that they are removed from their positions as Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (DNDPP) and Special Director of Public Prosecutions, respectively. The decision accordingly follows the recommendations made by the Mokgoro Commission of Enquiry into the fitness of the two advocates to fulfil senior positions within the Office of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). 

In line with section 12 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act (NPA Act) the President was required to decide within six months from the time he announced their provisional suspension (pending the enquiry into their fitness to hold office within the NPA) whether they had to be removed. 

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With a mere two weeks until South Africa’s sixth National Elections, the election campaigns of all contesting parties are trying to tell us who to vote for.  Do we want to “grow South Africa together”, “one South Africa for all” or rather, “our Land and Jobs now”? Though some might be tired of hearing empty promises, national elections are the key mechanism through which the people can set the policies they have to live, work, study and parent under. Therefore, a competitive and fair ‘marketplace of ideas’, in other words, policy-focused elections, are vital. But for this to be true, an underlying assumption needs to be tested: do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine government policies?

AuditorGeneral

For at least the last five years, the Auditor-General (AG), a Chapter 9 institution constitutionally-mandated to audit the financial statements of all national and provincial departments, municipalities and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), has emphasised the alarming regression in clean audit outcomes. This regression, according to the AG’s Consolidated General Report on National and Provincial Audit Outcomes 2017-2018 was mainly due to the flagrant disregard of the AG’s audit recommendations. Not only did fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased by over 200% from the previous year, to R2.5 billion, but at national level, clean audits appallingly regressed to 23%, from an already paltry 30% in the previous financial year. 

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SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND ANOTHER V LAND ACCESS MOVEMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA AND OTHERS 

On 19 March 2019, the Constitutional Court (the Court) handed down judgment in Speaker of the National Assembly and Another v Land Access Movement of South Africa and Others (LAMOSA 2). The matter was an application brought by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for an extension of an interdict granted by the same Court in Land Access Movement of South Africa v Chairperson, National Council of Provinces (LAMOSA 1).

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Introduction

I have been asked today to participate in the discussion on improving the accountability of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), with the focus of developing specific proposals for reform.

I wish to begin by saying that this discussion could not have come at more important time. We currently face a small window of opportunity, where legislative reform of the NPA to strengthen independence and accountability might draw political support from the majority party. This potential support is evidenced by recent developments, such as the appointment of a panel in 2018 to assist the President in identifying potential candidates for the position of the NDPP. The recent transparent mechanism applied by the President to assist him in making the choice could provide a blueprint for possible reform, and this opportunity for legislative reform should be quickly seized.

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