Letters to the editor: April 21 to 27 2017

Half-baked: Portable toilets in an informal settlement. ‘They’ promised so much but delivery was inadequate. (David Harrison)

Half-baked: Portable toilets in an informal settlement. ‘They’ promised so much but delivery was inadequate. (David Harrison)

They promised the good and delivered the bad

They promised a better life for all and delivered by shutting down nursing and education colleges, industries and product control boards.

They promised reconciliation and sustainable development and delivered inferior RDP houses, narrow streets with potholes, no street lights and intermittent water supply. When it rains, electricity disappears. And yes, they brought us the arms deal and load-shedding.

They promised equal opportunities for all but delivered us a well-structured system of kleptocracy, jobs for pals, girlfriends and Ben-10s while unemployed graduates wallow in self-pity.

They promised equal pay for equal work but when miners called them on this they were mown down in numbers.

They promised to open the doors of learning to all but delivered us a 30% pass mark and a system of jobs-for-cash, alternatively jobs-for-sex, resulting in the appointment of less qualified persons to positions of power.

When we reminded them of the urgent need to introduce free quality education up to first post-matric qualification, they beat us and locked us up.

They promised a safe and crime-free society and delivered by compromising the integrity of crime-busting institutions, starting with the highly effective Directorate of Special Investigations, Crime Intelligence and specialised detective units such as child protection and sexual offences, and Correctional Services. They delivered colourful characters such as Menzi Simelane, Nomgcobo Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi, Mokotedi Mpshe, Richard Mdluli, S’bu Ndebele, Mthandazo Ntlemeza, David “The Grabber” Mahlobo and many more.

It is only by fluke that their aggressive efforts to capture the judiciary have, to date, not been successful.

They promised improved and safer transportation and delivered mammoth trains inoperable on the existing rail network. Trains that do run are always late, thanks to aged infrastructure. Taxis and buses remain active killing machines on our roads. They have failed to rein in unruly elements in the taxi industry.

They delivered tollgates and demanded that the heavily taxed middle class dig further into its pockets, while delivering bailouts to SAA.

Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) is infamous for paying ridiculous salaries to overpaid executives while employees take home embarrassingly low wages.

They promised access to free, quality health and social services and delivered by killing more than 100 mentally ill patients and caused national discomfort when they left the Constitutional Court with no other option but to extend an illegal Cash Paymaster Services contract to ensure the most vulnerable receive their social grants.

They promised a human rights approach to foreign policy and delivered by propping up the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Joseph Kabila and helping Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir to escape the International Criminal Court, and sending our troops to die in faraway countries to protect politicians’ business interests.

They promised clean, efficient, effective and transparent government and delivered Jacob Zuma and the Gupta dynasty.

Now they are promising us radical economic transformation … – Afrika Katze, Braamfontein


UDM chose wrong route to secret vote

In his article Concourt should find for the UDM, Eusebius McKaiser argues that “active citizens must read cases, think about them and be prepared to hold the court accountable for poor legal adjudication”. The American legal scholar Barry Friedman agrees that “public monitoring of the judiciary, and judicial responsiveness to public opinion over time, are essential to mediated popular constitutionalism”.

McKaiser argues that the Constitutional Court must hear the United Democratic Movement (UDM) case for a secret ballot in Parliament on a motion of no confidence in the president, on the grounds that it is not the same as the Tlouamma case, in which opposition parties contended that the National Assembly elects the president by secret ballot and thus the president has to be removed the same way.

What’s new in the UDM case for a secret ballot is the allegation of intimidation of and threats to ANC parliamentarians if they are seen to vote against the president. This undermines their oath to hold the government accountable.

The full Bench decided that the Constitution is not prescriptive as to the manner in which the vote must be cast and emphasised that Parliament is entitled to regulate its internal proceedings and procedures.

The National Assembly rules 77 to 93 regulate voting processes and do not provide for secret ballot.

Rule 2 (1) gives the speaker the discretion to fashion a rule for anything not contemplated in the rules. The UDM argues that the speaker has discretion on whether to use a secret ballot. The Constitution only requires a vote to be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.

The apex court reflected on National Assembly Rule 2 (1) in the Mazibuko vs Sisulu and Motshekga (2013) case, stating that it “is permissive not peremptory”. The speaker cannot alter or override the rules (see paragraphs 28 to 20 of the rules), but can consider new ones within her areas of discretion.

The UDM case is in effect an appeal of the Tlouamma case through the back door. The UDM waited for another vote of no confidence to launch an appeal in the guise of a new matter.

In my view, there are no prospects of success on the merits. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has approached the wrong forum.

  He has two political options: to convince the ANC to support an amendment of the National Assembly rules to introduce a secret ballot for a vote of no confidence, or to keep campaigning for the masses to vote the ANC out of power in 2019. – Ishmael Motswane Malale, former National Assembly rules committee member

 

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