Con­sti­tu­tion mud­dies party and state

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Sam Dit­shego

THE SPEAKER of Par­lia­ment and cabi­net min­is­ters are guilty of con­flat­ing the gov­ern­ing party and the state.

From time to time, this ex­poses the loop­holes in the con­sti­tu­tion, billed the best in the world. The first prob­lem with the con­sti­tu­tion stems from the fact that its nuts and bolts were tight­ened in se­cret. Most of the in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion didn’t take part in its draft­ing and adop­tion.

Pro­fes­sor Chan­cel­lor Wil­liams said the con­sti­tu­tion of a people, writ­ten or un­writ­ten, de­rives from their cus­tom­ary rules of life.

Since we didn’t take part in its draft­ing and adop­tion, the con­sti­tu­tion couldn’t pos­si­bly have de­rived from our cus­tom­ary rules of life. It was sin­gle-hand­edly drafted by a white man who was a mem­ber of the SACP and Congress of Democrats, Lionel “Rusty” Bern­stein, whose pre­am­ble says South Africa be­longs to all who live in it, black and white. Be­low is part of what an­cient African con­sti­tu­tions looked like:

Po­lit­i­cal party af­fil­i­a­tion should be se­condary to the in­ter­ests of the people.

Let’s ex­am­ine the ac­tions of the Speaker and the role of her of­fice.

The man­date of the Speaker, as stip­u­lated in the con­sti­tu­tion, states: As the leader of the House, the Speaker has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to:

The im­par­tial­ity of the Speaker is one of the prime val­ues and the in­tegrity of Par­lia­ment is mea­sured in terms thereof.

Speak­ing to the me­dia at the re­cent ANC pol­icy con­fer­ence about the mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence vote to be con­ducted in se­cret against Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma, Speaker of Par­lia­ment Baleka Mbete said there was no po­lit­i­cal party that could vote it­self out of power. She said ANC mem­bers of Par­lia­ment knew how to vote, which was coax­ing them on how to vote. That was patently un­ac­cept­able for a Speaker to do.

She is con­sti­tu­tion­ally sup­posed to be im­par­tial. Mbete has clearly taken a par­tial and par­ti­san stand in vi­o­la­tion of her oath of of­fice. She is re­ported to have writ­ten to po­lit­i­cal par­ties, re­quest­ing them to mo­ti­vate why they want a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence to be con­ducted in se­cret.

Why is she ask­ing them for mo­ti­va­tion when she has em­broiled her­self in par­tial­ity and par­ti­san­ship? She has taken sides which should dis­qual­ify her from pre­sid­ing over that mo­tion of no con­fi­dence. Hasn’t she heard or read Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng’s land­mark judg­ment on the is­sue? This Speaker is full of mon­key tricks. Ini­tially she said she had no con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers to or­der a se­cret bal­lot. The Con­sti­tu­tional Court clar­i­fied that po­si­tion and ruled she has the power.

Now Mbete wants po­lit­i­cal par­ties to mo­ti­vate why they want a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence be con­ducted in se­cret.

The drafters of the con­sti­tu­tion mod­elled the con­sti­tu­tion mainly on the Bri­tish sys­tem, ig­nor­ing the role and func­tions of its Speaker who re­signs from his/her po­lit­i­cal party af­ter be­ing elected to the po­si­tion and never re­turns to ac­tive pol­i­tics af­ter his/her term of of­fice ends.

Mbete should not have at­tended the ANC pol­icy con­fer­ence in the first place, let alone mak­ing the silly comments. I watched her on tele­vi­sion mak­ing those im­be­cilic ut­ter­ances.

An­other per­son who con­flates party and state is Lindiwe Sisulu. She is a cabi­net min­is­ter but has de­clared her in­ten­tion of con­test­ing the ANC pres­i­dency with­out hav­ing re­signed as Min­is­ter of Hu­man Set­tle­ments. This is un­ac­cept­able.

I emailed her a week ago about hous­ing cor­rup­tion in Mo­gale City in­volv­ing a cer­tain coun­cil­lor whom I named.

I haven’t re­ceived an ac­knowl­edge­ment be­cause she is busy cam­paign­ing for the pres­i­dency of the ANC while ig­nor­ing her min­is­te­rial du­ties.

It is un­ac­cept­able for ANC pub­lic ser­vants to have their cake and eat it. The “best con­sti­tu­tion in the world” al­lows them to un­der­mine the du­ties of their of­fices.

The con­sti­tu­tion should have pro­vided for min­is­ters and pub­lic ser­vants to re­sign from their posts if they stood for po­si­tions in po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Sadly, it doesn’t.

The con­sti­tu­tion should have also pro­vided for politi­cians and their fam­i­lies, friends and rel­a­tives not to do busi­ness with the govern­ment or state while in of­fice and five years af­ter they have left of­fice, which is known as a re­volv­ing-door pol­icy.

This con­sti­tu­tion needs draft­ing from scratch. Kag­iso


VI­O­LAT­ING HER OATH: A Speaker of Par­lia­ment is sup­posed to be im­par­tial, how­ever, Baleka Mbete is any­thing but, says the writer.

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