Courts holding executive arms in check, says Manuel


South Africa has reached a terrible stage in its democracy where both the executive and parliament had failed and where the courts tried to hold each of these arms of government in check‚ former finance minister Trevor Manuel said on Thursday.

Trevor Manuel Picture: HERALD LIVE

Delivering the annual Neil Aggett memorial lecture at independent Grahamstown school Kingswood College‚ Manuel warned that South Africa faced a major problem when its courts proclaimed that not even the head of state understood his oath of office. Manuel was referring to the Constitutional Court finding that both President Jacob Zuma and parliament had failed to uphold the constitution when they had not defended or upheld the authority of then public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Manuel said while the courts could hold the two arms of government in check‚ they could not lead. They could only respond to requests from those who chose to litigate.

“Leadership is meant to come from the executive‚ overseen by the legislature. Those two arms have failed. They fail to even observe the decisions of the court.”

He described the constitution as a magnificent document which was bound to wither and die unless it was kept alive by a commitment to the values it enshrined.

He said the constitution started with a premise to honour those‚ like Aggett‚ that had sacrificed so much.

Aggett was a doctor‚ trade union organiser and an outspoken anti-apartheid activist who died while in solitary confinement in police detention in 1982. The police at the time claimed he committed suicide. Aggett had attended school at Kingswood‚ which annually celebrates its former pupil.

by Adrienne Carlisle – DispatchLIVE



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