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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

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The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes today’s majority judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court regarding the position of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). It is further testament to the tenacious efforts to ensure the adherence to the Rule of Law by civil society, given that the application before the Court was launched by Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law (FUL) and CASAC. The judgment, which comes five months after the matter was argued, brings finality to the question of whether Shaun Abrahams is rightfully in the office, given the unlawful departure of his predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana. 

The strongly-worded judgment in which former President Jacob Zuma is said to have abused his power in the unlawful removal of Nxasana perhaps reflects exasperation on the part of the Judiciary. Yet again, the courts are forced to intervene in a matter involving the abuse of power and political interference in State institutions.

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President Ramaphosa’s late night statement of 31 July is now well-read and known. It has been criticised, lauded and discussed in detail. The issue of why the statement was delivered at that time, and whether there was a good reason to do it, despite the Parliamentary review process being ongoing, lies in the realm of political commentary. As a Foundation with a mission of protecting and promoting the Constitution, we must take the statement and its intention on face value and point out what its consequences are and could be. In the Foundation’s statement of 1 August we have already commented on the statement’s unacceptable procedure that undermined the parliamentary process and the independence of the SABC. 

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The FW de Klerk Foundation noted with grave concern the statement on expropriation without compensation (EWC), by ANC president Ramaphosa after the NEC Lekgotla last night. There are two main problems with the statement, procedurally and substantively.

Speaking as leader of a political party, he abused the platform of the national broadcaster to make a party-political announcement, as if it were an announcement as President of the country. This shows the same dangerous conflation of party and State as we have seen during the Zuma years. The statement also pre-empts the outcome and makes a mockery of the parliamentary process that is underway, as if the ANC is the only party in Parliament. The incidental reference to the “parliamentary process” does not hide the apparent disdain the majority party has for the Legislature and its processes. In addition, the announcement short-circuited the public hearings, thus rendering public participation in the legislative process obsolete. This means that any future amendments are open to a legal challenge on grounds of lack of procedural fairness.

GRACE MUGABE

The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes yesterday’s decision involving former Zimbabwean first lady, Dr Grace Mugabe, which was handed down by the Gauteng High Court. It is of concern that the decision makes apparent that the government of South Africa lacked the authority to either confer or grant immunity to Mugabe, in a bid to protect her against the allegations of wrongdoing. In doing so, the South African Government failed to protect its own citizen and further undermined the Constitution in unlawfully granting immunity to Mugabe.

As was the case in the Al Bashir matter, the South African government has shown that it lacks the political will and inclination to abide by the Rule of Law when faced with thorny political questions. This failure by the government to abide by the spirit and letter of its own laws, while cynically circumventing due process, chips away at South Africa’s foundational values. Yet again, the Judiciary finds itself having to adjudicate a matter in which the Executive has failed in its constitutional obligations.

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The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes the announcement of the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, that lifestyle audits for senior managers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have started and will be completed by March 2019. As a country, we have too long concentrated only on ‘big’ Zupta-related corruption and state capture, forgetting that ‘smaller’ corruption in the public service is also endemic. It is a well-known fact that most of the bigger SOEs are in dire financial trouble, amongst others apparently because of sky-high salary bills. While legal battles are playing themselves out with regard to the Zupta-related issues, a start must be made on the other instances of corruption. While a lifestyle audit will not be conclusive evidence of corruption, it would be a good indicator of possible ill-begotten income. This task will be undertaken by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and it must be hoped that they have the requisite skills to complete the task successfully. It is perhaps significant that the period for financial declarations goes back to 2009, the start of the Zuma administration.

Mandela Day

On Mandela Day 2018, South Africans and those across the world who share former President Mandela’s vision to make a difference in the lives of others, will be dedicating time to various activities and projects to make the world a better place.

In the words of former President Mandela, “We need to restore and reaffirm the dignity of the people of Africa and the developing world. We need to place the eradication of poverty at the top of world priorities. We need to know with a fresh conviction that we all share a common humanity and that our diversity in the world is the strength for our future together.”

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Tomorrow we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.  

He was rightly acknowledged by the whole world as one of the greatest leaders of the latter part of the 20th century - and he was certainly one of the most impressive people that I met during my long political career.  He had enormous charm, charisma and the natural self-assurance of a born aristocrat. He had steel-like self-discipline and determination that he gained during the long and bitter years of his imprisonment.  Above all he had an unshakable commitment to the goals of the African National Congress and to the establishment of a non-racial democratic South Africa.  

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During the current Constitutional Review Committee hearings one frequently heard: “We want the land back that the whites took from us”. But who took the land and who owns it now, is not so clear. It has often been stated that without a proper and credible land audit, we cannot have a sober and balanced debate on land, and “that” land cannot be subject to land reform or redistribution.

The two land audits done by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), raise more questions than provide answers. Criticism has already been raised many times. The 2013 audit was intended to identify State land. The 2017 audit was intended to take stock of private land ownership in terms of race, gender and nationality. One private audit, done by Agri SA, was intended to quantify the ownership and commercial transfer of agricultural land.

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