Corruption and maladministration threaten to derail our constitutional vision of a better life for all, said Judge Mahomed Navsa of Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday (5 September 2017).
He delivered the 13th Annual Human Rights Lecture of the Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University (SU). The event was organised by Prof Sandra Liebenberg who holds the Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at SU.
Judge Mahomed Navsa said corruption and maladministration divert state efforts and resources away from the poor and disadvantaged.
“The Constitutional Court is emphatic in its assertion that corruption and maladministration pose a threat to human rights."
Navsa added that corruption threatens the health of the nation and the very fabric of society.
He highlighted civil society's vigilance and determination; the independence and determination of constitutional watchdogs; and balanced media scrutiny as essential to hold government to account.
“Without these the constitutional vision is endangered and a bleak and a disastrous future will be the result."
“The protection and promotion of our democracy requires vigilance and constant agitation by civil society."
Navsa said we should use the country's laws and institutions to fight corruption and maladministration and to make our democracy a success.
“What is required in the fight against corruption and maladministration is an appreciation, instilled in the national psyche, concerning the importance of laws and institutions fundamental to the success of our democracy."
“Those of us cognisant of the heavy price paid for liberation, for whom the rule of law is paramount should make every effort to impress upon children, students and the populace at large that public representatives and office bearers serve at their pleasure and that the many constitutional and legislative tools at their disposal should be utilised to ensure that government and powerful interests are held to account."
“There should be on-going public education campaigns which bring home the point that ours is a democracy based on the rule of law and that we are a nation of laws and not of personalities."
“Institutions that were set up to ensure that the exercise of power is kept within legal and constitutional bounds must do their duty and fulfil their constitutional mandates."
Navsa encouraged all South Africans to become activist in promoting constitutional values and ensuring that particularly the poor and the vulnerable are not exposed to the corrosive effects of abuse of power.
He said that if the constitutional vision of a better society for all doesn't become a reality because of corruption and maladministration, our democratic experiment will have failed spectacularly.
- Main photo: Judge Mahomed Navsa delivering the Human Rights Lecture.
- Photo 1: Prof Sandy Liebenberg, Judge Mahomed Navsa, and Prof Nicola Smit, Dean of the Faculty of Law, before the Lecture.
- Photographer: TC Kieck