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Constitutional Inconvenience

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on January 14, 2022 13:26

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Some African countries received constitutions from their colonial masters. Freed slaves, resettled in Liberia, were blessed by one based on the American Constitution. The British do not have one, at least not a written Constitution. In most cases the Constitution represents a popular consensus on how the nation should be ruled. Until someone feels it does not suffice, then violence is preferred.

It came as a surprise to many South Africans when the Minister for Tourism, daughter of a political aristocrat, having been in Government since the advent of democracy, launched an attack on the Constitution, stating that it stacks the deck against victims of the "Rule of Law."

She declared that the "Beautiful Constitution" is but a palliative against poverty and that it has brought a new class of politicians and power brokers who 'dine caviar' (sic) while others go hungry. The Minister, not known to shy away from fashion and luxuries, looked to the January 6 insurrection in Washington and asked whether its proponents cared about democracy or about power. 

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu seems to compare black South African politicians to American "House Negroes" and accused them of having no Pan-African ideological grounding. In conclusion, she asked: "If the law does not work for Africans in Africa, then what is the use of the rule of law?"

The reaction from various sides was expectedly clamorous. Fellow members in the Cabinet berated her for breaking ranks, judges took her to task for suggesting that the judiciary is 'mentally colonised'. Party luminaries regretted her 'desperation'. Opposition politicians and journalists were less kind. 

Analysts point out that she had served as assistant to the then-Head of Intelligence of the underground African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, during the struggle against Apartheid, and has since kept close ties with him during his rise to Presidential power and his fall from grace. It will be remembered that ex-President Zuma is at the moment locked in a bitter struggle against the Constitutional Court to avoid prison after having been found guilty of contempt of court.

Many of Sisulu's utterances echo those of the pro-Zuma faction, the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) group who instigated a series of violent protests, looting and destruction of property in protest against Zuma's arrest. Is Sisulu seeking leadership of this faction in anticipation of the ANC's December 2022 election of its leader?

Critics accuse Minister Sisulu for echoing a British politician, drawing some 35% of the contents of her article from his writing, and unsportingly point to her career as a high-handed politician who did not hesitate to remove homeless people by force.

The question is asked: What has she done for the poor, the landless, the disenfranchised during her 25-year career in the highest echelons of power, to now suddenly find those very echelons 'colonized'? 

Minister Sisulu links her frustration with the Constitution to the similar struggle taking place in the USA. She seems to draw the conclusion that constitutionality and the rule of law, should be trumped (the pun is mine) by political expediency and force, somewhat like an ex-Mayor of New York who called for 'trial by combat'. 

When a Constitution, the product of in depth public and private consultation, countless town hall meetings and months of negotiation is summarily dismissed, we are indeed on the edge of the Dark Ages.

 

 

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on January 14, 2022 13:26

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Source: HuffPost
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No congressional member can serve who has taken an oath to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection, noted...

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