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