Judges: Meet in the middle
The judge hit back (Letters, March 1) by contending that socialism has not worked anywhere, ever, and that he would prefer to see the courts implementing the tenets of the national development plan (which is broadly based on the values of the Constitution) rather than, by necessary implication, those of the national democratic revolution (which is derived from the schemes of Vladimir Lenin) and has the tacit backing of the Serjeant, who apparently overlooks the fate of the USSR and similar experiments in social engineering.
A pragmatic middle path lies somewhere between these two extremes. Our hard-won and carefully crafted constitutional consensus was described by late Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson only last year as a "social democrat" sort of deal. It certainly isn't communist, much as the surviving adherents of the national democratic revolution would like it to be, nor is it rampantly free-market-capitalist, as the Free Market Foundation and others would have it be.
Perhaps it is time to hold that "economic Codesa" that Clem Sunter keeps talking about, so that the unfinished business end of our constitutional order can be addressed comprehensively and democratically rather than through spats between judges and columnists. It may emerge quite starkly that South Africa is irrevocably committed to the neoliberal "Washington Consensus" because of the debt-entrapment provisions of loans concluded to finance our ill-fated arms deals.
I do, however, have to cross swords with the learned judge's unqualified support of the national development plan. In his eagerness to embrace its economics, he has not given sufficient attention to the detail of the plan's anti-corruption provisions. They are deeply unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court has had the final say on what we need. This would be a sufficiently independent anti-corruption entity to be an effective bulwark against the cancerous potential of corruption to destroy our fragile democratic and economic order. A specialised, well-trained, properly resourced unit with security of tenure and sufficient clout to deal with systemic corruption in high places is necessary. This is not what the national development plan has in mind at all. It is quite wrong in its multi-agency approach.
Unqualified support of the plan is not indicated, m'lud, not while it still contains the silly suggestions it makes for fighting corruption. An anti-corruption commission, already dubbed the Eagles, is what we require. It is universally known that Eagles fly higher, see further and go after bigger prey than Hawks. History will judge us all harshly if we continue to ignore these self-evident facts by expecting the Hawks to do the work of the Eagles. – Paul Hoffman SC, director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa