Opinion / Letters LETTER: Processes of democracy cannot be overlooked

by | May 7, 2024 | Chapter 9, General | 0 comments

Not so long ago, when his “new dawn” was freshly on SA, President Cyril Ramaphosa made a valid observation. He said: “Corruption has wounded our democracy and shaken people’s faith in our institutions. If corruption is not arrested, the greatest damage will not be in the funds stolen, the jobs lost or the services not delivered. The greatest damage will be to the belief in democracy itself.”

At present, three important bills await presidential assent. There are valid complaints that all three are, in one way or another, unconstitutional. The Expropriation Bill contradicts the constitutional requirement that there be a court determination of compensation should those involved directly be unable to agree on the value of the property earmarked for expropriation.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill defies economic logic in many ways and has not been ventilated properly in the necessary public participation process. The Investigating Directorate Against Corruption Bill contradicts the requirements of the constitution as spelt out in binding terms in the Glenister litigation. It is a sitter for being impugned as unconstitutional.

Belief in democracy, and in its necessary processes, requires that the president apply his mind to the constitutionality of the three bills. He is empowered to send them back to parliament or, later, to the Constitutional Court, if he has lingering doubts about their constitutionality.

Whether he will decline to sign the bills depends on how seriously his more recent utterance is taken — by him: “It’s not given for me to be second-guessing what the judges of our country say. I leave the judges to make pronouncements, their judgments, and for me, as the head of state, it is to give credence to the fact that the independence of the judiciary must be respected.”

Paul Hoffman
Accountability Now

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