Nkandla Judgement: Quotable Quotes from the Constitutional Court

1 Apr 2016

She is the embodiment of a biblical David, that the public is, who fights the most powerful and very well-resourced Goliath, that impropriety and corruption by government officials are. The Public Protector is one of the true crusaders and champions of anti˗corruption and clean governance.

Ujuh Reporter

South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, handed down a landmark judgement, representing a unanimous ruling of the of Constitutional Court, on the matter of President Jacob Zuma’s splurge of public funds on his private residence known as Nkandla Homestead. Here follows some of the quotes from the judgement.

About Constitutionalism

“One of the crucial elements of our constitutional vision is to make a decisive break from the unchecked abuse of State power and resources that was virtually institutionalised during the apartheid era.”

“Public office-bearers ignore their constitutional obligations at their peril. This is so because constitutionalism, accountability and the rule of law constitute the sharp and mighty sword that stands ready to chop the ugly head of impunity off its stiffened neck.

“Our constitutional democracy can only be truly strengthened when: there is zero-tolerance for the culture of impunity; the prospects of good governance are duly enhanced by enforced accountability; the observance of the rule of law; and respect for every aspect of our Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic are real.

“The rule of law requires that no power be exercised unless it is sanctioned by law and no decision or step sanctioned by law may be ignored based purely on a contrary view we hold.

“It is not open to any of us to pick and choose which of the otherwise effectual consequences of the exercise of constitutional or statutory power will be disregarded and which given heed to.”

About the stature of the Office of the President

 “The President is the Head of State and Head of the national Executive. His is indeed the highest calling to the highest office in the land.

“Only upon him has the constitutional obligation to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic been expressly imposed.

“Unsurprisingly, the nation pins its hopes on him to steer the country in the right direction and accelerate our journey towards a peaceful, just and prosperous destination…

“He is a constitutional being by design, a national pathfinder, the quintessential commander-in-chief of State affairs and the personification of this nation’s constitutional project.”

About the stature of the National Assembly (Parliament)

“… the National Assembly, and by extension Parliament, is the embodiment of the centuries-old dreams and legitimate aspirations of all our people.

“It is the voice of all South Africans, especially the poor, the voiceless and the least˗remembered.

“It is the watchdog of State resources, the enforcer of fiscal discipline and cost-effectiveness for the common good of all our people.

“It also bears the responsibility to play an oversight role over the Executive and State organs and ensure that constitutional and statutory obligations are properly executed. For this reason, it fulfils a pre-eminently unique role of holding the Executive accountable for the fulfilment of the promises made

“In sum, Parliament is the mouthpiece, the eyes and the service-delivery-ensuring machinery of the people. No doubt, it is an irreplaceable feature of good governance in South Africa.

“On a proper construction of its constitutional obligations, the National Assembly was duty-bound to hold the President accountable by facilitating and ensuring compliance with the decision of the Public Protector

“The ineluctable conclusion is therefore, that the National Assembly’s resolution based on the Minister’s findings exonerating the President from liability is inconsistent with the Constitution and unlawful”

About the Public Protector

“…the Constitution guarantees the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of this institution as indispensable requirements for the proper execution of its mandate

“These institutions are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and they must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice.

“The tentacles of poverty run far, wide and deep in our nation. Litigation is prohibitively expensive and therefore not an easily exercisable constitutional option for an average citizen. For this reason, the fathers and mothers of our Constitution conceived of a way to give even to the poor and marginalised a voice, and teeth that would bite corruption and abuse excruciatingly. And that is the Public Protector.

“She is the embodiment of a biblical David, that the public is, who fights the most powerful and very well-resourced Goliath, that impropriety and corruption by government officials are. The Public Protector is one of the true crusaders and champions of anti˗corruption and clean governance.

“In the execution of her investigative, reporting or remedial powers, she is not to be inhibited, undermined or sabotaged.

“Within the context of breathing life into the remedial powers of the Public Protector, she must have the resources and capacities necessary to effectively execute her mandate so that she can indeed strengthen our constitutional democracy.”

You can access the full judgement here: CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA RULING ON THE JACOB ZUMA NKANDLA MATTER

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