Four times the Constitution was used to fight bad politics

Tariq Khan | Aug 28, 2021
The Constitution is a legal contract that protects the rights of South Africa’s citizens. It is important to keep this document guarded, as it stops politicians from dodging accountability when they abuse government power.

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Four times the Constitution was used to fight bad politics

The Constitution is a legal contract that protects the rights of South Africa’s citizens. It is important to keep this document guarded, as it stops politicians from dodging accountability when they abuse government power. To inspire more South Africans to take ownership of their rights, here are four instances when our fellow compatriots used theirs against ineffective politicians.

  1. In January 2020, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that some parts of the government’s lockdown were “invalid” and “irrational”. This came after a group of residents in Cape Town – led by Tami Jackson and Scott Roberts challenged the rules in court. Among the rules they challenged was one that banned the sale of “hot food”. The rule of law was used to teach politicians that they cannot abuse the law to impose arbitrary rules on the public.

 

  1. The Unemployed People’s Movement, an activist organisation in the Eastern Cape, accused Makana municipality of failing to “adhere to principles of good governance”. This led to their bravely taking their fight to the courts, which ruled in their favour. According to the ruling, the municipality was put under administration “for failing to promote a safe and healthy environment for its community”. If residents and organisations feel that politicians are failing to provide them with services, they should intervene by approaching the courts.

 

  1. In April, an online news website reported that a Durban court ruled against discriminatory laws, which affected black women in particular. Under the Apartheid-era Black Administration Act and Matrimonial Property Act, black women were automatically married out of community of property, unless stated otherwise. Agnes Sithole successfully challenged this law, leading to a ruling that made it unconstitutional.

 

  1. The North Gauteng Division of the High Court made an impressive ruling in 2020, which had ramifications for the government’s desire to re-impose a harsh lockdown on the public and the economy. According to Judge Norman Davis, the lockdown level 3 and 4 regulations were “unconstitutional” and “invalid”. The effect of this ruling is to prevent the government from imposing another harsh lockdown.

 

South African has a powerful Constitution, not because it empowers the government, but because it stops the government from abusing its authority. South Africans who care about their freedom should not allow politicians to exert power as they wish. They must always remember that this power has been granted conditionally by the voters and that it can easily be challenged through the law and reassigned through elections.

 

 

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