Accountability Now’s proposals have not yet received any response from the executive

21 November 2022

Mac Maharaj, former spokesman for Jacob Zuma when he was president, and before that the Mandela-era transport minister, recently emerged from retirement (he was born in 1935) to deliver a speech in Lenasia commemorating Laloo Chiba, a struggle hero imprisoned in 1964.           

Part of what Maharaj said is worth repeating: “Left to government and the political parties, the campaign against corruption carries the danger that it will descend into a stop-start faltering effort trapped in the vicissitudes of pushbacks by those implicated, factionalism and point scoring among our political parties.

“Nothing prevents a civil society organisation from drafting the necessary legislation. It could draw academics in the legal field into the process. Armed with this draft bill, it should lobby the leaders of the political parties to table and promote it in parliament, if necessary as a private member’s bill.”

Accountability Now has news for Maharaj: its suggested draft bills have been with the executive and the legislature since August 2021, although no response has been received from the executive despite pertinacious efforts. However, the legislature, via the constitutional review committee, unanimously agreed in June 2022 to give us a hearing on a date yet to be arranged.

The DA has responded to the suggestions made, in the words of its shadow justice minister, “by shamelessly copying the work done by Accountability Now”. It has private member’s bills in the works. The IFP has long supported the notion of a Chapter Nine anticorruption entity. Even the ANC national executive committee came close to doing so in August 2020 when it passed a resolution that has not been acted on by the cabinet.

Whether the supine approach of the executive can be classified as a “pushback by those implicated” (in Maharaj’s words) is a matter for speculation based upon the number of cabinet ministers named and shamed by the Zondo state capture commission and the soon-to-be-announced outcome of the panel chaired by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo investigating a notorious burglary at Phala Phala.

More good news for Maharaj is that the Defend Our Democracy campaign has given its endorsement to the drafts and has encouraged civil society organisations to do likewise. If that is not enough, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has given its blessing to the idea, as have Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and former public protector Thuli Madonsela. The drafts are publicly available on the Accountability Now website.

Paul Hoffman, SC, Director, Accountability Now

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