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.
The chairs and tables have been packed away, the delegates are home and the myriad of reports of the ANC’s 5th Policy Conference are at Luthuli House for editing, publication and, in due course, for sending to regions and branches countrywide for discussion. The final policy decisions will be made in December, at the Elective Conference.
It is important to consider whether, from the verbal feedback and media reports, the Constitution is in jeopardy after the Policy Conference. What must be taken into account is that this Policy Conference was less about policy and more about the fierce leadership struggle between the delegates backing Mrs Zuma (“NDZ”) and Cyril Ramaphosa (“CR17”).
Section 152 of the Constitution describes the objectives of local government as providing democratic and accountable government, ensuring the provision of services, promoting social and economic development, and promoting a safe and healthy environment. Section 195 offers a set of basic values and principles governing public administration, amongst these a high standard of professional ethics, the effective use of resources, and accountability.
The most recently-released Report by the Auditor-General (AG) on the local government sector paints a bleak, and in many instances, deteriorating picture of the state of financial management and oversight, one that is wholly inconsistent with the laudable and enforceable principles of the Constitution. This comes after 23 years of democratic government and repeated appeals by the AG to local politicians and officials to get their house in order. Local government is the lens through which ordinary South Africans experience constitutional guarantees - and failure of local government erodes public trust in the constitutional state.
- The FW de Klerk Foundation is honoured to have been requested by the Spur Panel of Inquiry to make a submission on the incident at the Texamo Spur in March 2017, with the aim of advising Spur how to handle such situations in particular, and possible reasons for the increase of such public incidents in general.
- The Spur Panel is an important forum for discussion in contemporary South Africa and accords with the Foundation’s own mission to support and promote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as foundational and sacred elements of our democracy. The constitutional imperative enshrined in the Preamble and captured in the Bill of Rights promoting unity in diversity is richly captured in the mission of the Foundation and forms the rationale for the establishment of the Foundation’s new Centre for Unity in Diversity.
The FW de Klerk Foundation has taken note of the publication of the 2017 Mining Charter with a great deal of concern. On Friday, the shares of mining companies fell by an average of more than 5%. Some assess that as much as R50 billion was wiped off their market value.
The Government has a constitutional and legal responsibility to empower black South Africans and the Foundation supports this worthy goal. However, given who the Minister is, the long shadows cast over him via the #GuptaLeaks and his association with them, we wonder who the real intended beneficiaries are. Frankly, we are concerned that a Minister who is criminally liable and possibly dishonest, has the audacity to make such profound changes to one of the key economic pillars of the country, when the country is economically in dire straits. We cannot but suspect that he is serving the interest of the captors of SA Inc in the name of transformation. Apparently the ANC, who have requested an urgent meeting with Minister Zwane, have the same concern.
The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court to order an investigation into the possibility of the Minister of Social Development’s (the Minister) personal liability for the costs of the social grants’ case. In a matter which nearly saw the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans dependent on social grants threatened due to the Minister’s failure to properly conduct her job, the personal costs order serves as a deterrent to other public officials who fall short of their oversight functions over government departments.
The Public Service Commission Annual Report for 2015/16 stated that the Office of the State Attorney, when litigating, loses as many as 70% of its cases. This figure speaks of ineffective, inefficient and uneconomic use of financial resources, in direct contradiction to the Constitution, which enshrines basic values and principles to undergird public administration.
The FW de Klerk Foundation recently made a submission to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on the Draft Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill (the Draft Bill).
The salient aspects of the Draft Bill are the introduction of ceilings regarding farm sizes, while limiting the ownership of agricultural land to South African citizens. Foreigners will only have leasehold rights, valid for a few years, over agricultural land.
That land reform is a constitutional imperative is a given. That the slow pace of land reform and ill thought-out policies frustrate the restorative justice intentions of the Constitution is also a given. However, this Draft Bill is irredeemably flawed and if implemented will further frustrate the progress of land reform.
The FW de Klerk Foundation congratulates Judge Raymond Zondo on his recent appointment to the position of Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.
Judge Zondo has a distinguished legal career to date. From humble roots in KwaZulu-Natal, he served his articles with the late Victoria Mxenge, where his interest in human rights grew. A notable career highlight was his appointment as a member of the Goldstone Commission, which was established by then President FW de Klerk, to investigate political violence and intimidation between July 1991 and the first general election in 1994.
One cannot blame South Africans for feeling a little punch-drunk and perhaps even despondent. It seems like there is no more good news in the media. The prospects for the country and the rand do not look good and reportedly, the emigration agents are making good money with South Africans seeking greener pastures (not that Britain looks so green following the terror attacks in public places - it's a lot safer even on Johannesburg’s streets).
There are two broad reactions to this state of affairs - some (like former president of the Free State, Jan Brand) say “everything will be alright”. “Zuma is on his way out one of these days and then everything will be set to rights again.” Others (like those who choose to emigrate) say with conviction “all is lost - the country will never recover from the damage inflicted by Zuma”. However, neither of these two reactions is 100% correct. As with many other things, the truth lies somewhere in between.