South Africa has betrayed the freedom of southern African, as well as the ever-suffering masses of the African continent, while reducing its courts to purveyors of common sense, says Thabo Mbeki Foundation, CEO Max Boqwana.
In a hard-hitting public lecture at Rhodes University about the development of the law under President Jacob Zuma, Boqwana warned that South Africa was on a destructive trajectory.
“The choices we have is to do something to halt the tide, or simply let the country burn into complete ashes.”
He said governance was increasingly being abdicated to the courts, which were being forced to pronounce on issues of common sense.
The taxpayer was having to pay massive legal bills because government refused to do its job.
Boqwana, who is also a co-chair of the Law Society and a visiting lecturer at the Rhodes law department, pointed to dozens of cases involving rationality and review that ended up in the courts because of bad decisions by government.
They included Zuma’s appointment of Menzi Simelane as National Director of Public Prosecutions despite evidence Simelane was dishonest and lacked the necessary integrity for the role.
The pattern had been repeated with former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng who had twice been appointed to top positions despite it being common knowledge he lied about his qualifications.
It had taken a long process of destruction, millions of rands in taxpayers’ money and many professional casualties to reach the obvious decision by the courts that Motsoeneng was not fit to hold “any position at all” at the SABC.
Boqwana referred to Zuma’s attempt to interdict the release of the Public Protector’s State Capture Report as the “crowning jewel in the quest to use state resources for private interest”.
“The approach to issues of justice and the development of regressive jurisprudence has negatively affected our regional and international standing.”
He pointed to South Africa’s support of the dismembering of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal as an affront to the people of the region.
‘The endorsement of open defiance of court orders, the removal of security of tenure for the tribunal judges and finally the shutting of the tribunal doors in the face of the region’s citizens is nothing short of a betrayal of freedom.”
He questioned what had happened between 2005 when SA had led the creation of the tribunal, endorsed its progressive protocol and believed in the dignity of the region’s citizens, to now when “we seemed confused as to why we found ourselves on the side of justice and masses of our region”.
A similar positio had been taken with the International Criminal Court.
In 2002, SA had seen fit to rectify and domesticate the Rome Statute, but just 15 years later, “we are asking ourselves, what possessed us to stand on the side of justice and the ever-suffering masses of our continent?”
Instead SA had proudly supported the likes of former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.
“To do what? To demonstrate wanton disregard for the aspirations of the people of the continent?”
He said there was a growing social discontent and feeling of alienation, especially among the youth and those on the margins, due to failing education and health systems, corruption and diversion of public resources to private pockets becoming the new normal.
Boqwana said it was time to call the nation into a national dialogue “to retrace our footsteps, re-imagine our country, capture the imagination of people and look at concrete plans to build the South Africa of our dreams, that is prosperous and inclusive.”