To my mind

Finweek English Edition - - To My Mind - COLLEEN NAUDÉ colleenn@fin­week.co.za

AN OB­SES­SION with race and gen­der is still ev­i­dent in sev­eral spheres of civil so­ci­ety. But at least we’re see­ing flick­ers of re­al­ism here and there.

There were at­tempts re­cently, from within and without, by those ob­sessed with race and gen­der to tam­per with the in­tegrity of South Africa’s ju­di­ciary.

From within, it was ev­i­dent in sev­eral un­pleas­ant in­ci­dents in­volv­ing raceob­sessed Cape Judge Pres­i­dent John Hlophe. In the most re­cent case he was ac­cused of try­ing to in­flu­ence the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in the Ja­cob Zuma case. That he suc­ceeded in (for the time be­ing) squirm­ing out of be­ing tried in court by ob­ject­ing be­cause court pro­ceed­ings went ahead in his ab­sence – af­ter he was re­port­edly too ill to at­tend – iron­i­cally scored points for the le­gal sys­tem.

Much more wor­ry­ing than the an­tics of Hlophe, who was sud­denly struck down by ill­ness, are the claims from out­side the ju­di­ciary by new Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe, who when Min­is­ter of Trans­port be­came more renowned for his ver­bosity than for his ac­tions. He now has much to say about candidates be­ing con­sid­ered for four posts in the Ap­peal Court. Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by the Ju­di­cial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion, Radebe said he needed time for “the en­hance­ment of the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary and the vi­tal ques­tion of the trans­for­ma­tion of the ju­di­ciary in terms of the Con­sti­tu­tion with re­gard to race and gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion”.

It’s as­tound­ing the man misses the irony of the mat­ter. His in­ter­ven­tion in the se­lec­tion process – the com­mis­sion had to post­pone planned in­ter­views with Judges Ron­nie Bosielo (from Gaut­eng), Erich Leach (from the East­ern Cape) and Ben­nie Griesel (from the Cape divi­sion) – is pre­cisely a threat to the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary.

The hon­ourable min­is­ter later in­di­cated he wasn’t that un­happy with the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the sexes in the ju­di­ciary, but that racial rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­quired at­ten­tion. No word about the best man – or woman – for the job.

It’s re­as­sur­ing that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma stated a day later in Par­lia­ment that he’d act in the best in­ter­ests of SA when he ex­er­cised his pow­ers to ap­point ju­di­cial of­fi­cers and that trans­form­ing the ju­di­ciary wasn’t in­tended to un­der­mine its in­de­pen­dence.

The same kind of ob­ses­sion with gen­der and racial equal­ity led to the ab­surd out­burst against He­len Zille in the West­ern Cape. Un­der the lead­er­ship of Tony Ehren­re­ich, the ANC is con­tin­u­ing with its ridicu­lous threats be­cause Zille hasn’t ap­pointed any women to her West­ern Cape pro­vin­cial cab­i­net. Once again, no word about the best woman – or man – for the job.

Just as un­re­al­is­tic as harp­ing on about racial and gen­der equal­ity are the de­mands by Cosatu that the SA Re­serve Bank must dump inflation tar­get­ing and dras­ti­cally lower in­ter­est rates. Such un­re­al­is­tic views – plus the at­ten­dant threats of dis­rup­tive strikes – are clear signs of ig­no­rance and a to­tal dis­re­gard for re­al­ity. One ray of hope is Gwede Man­tashe, who has at least – for the time be­ing – calmed down im­petu­ous Cosatu sec­re­tary-gen­eral Zwelenzima Vavi and his hench­men.

Equally pre­pos­ter­ous was the over­hasty de­ci­sion not only to al­low Zim­bab­weans to en­ter SA without visas but also to al­low them to work here for 90 days. That con­ces­sion was one of the de­ci­sions made by the for­mer dis­as­trous Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, shortly be­fore the elec­tion.

Just when it seemed as if for­mer For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Nkosazana DlaminiZuma was ex­er­cis­ing bet­ter judge­ment in her new port­fo­lio at Home Af­fairs and that re­al­ity was start­ing to hit home, she de­nied hav­ing the rul­ing re­viewed.

One can only hope that in many other spheres, such as the work­ings of mon­e­tary and fis­cal pol­icy and the need for a truly in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, re­al­ity will in­deed fi­nally tri­umph over nar­row ide­o­log­i­cal ideals with po­ten­tially de­struc­tive con­se­quences for SA’s democ­racy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.