human rights in south africa: the good, the bad and the ugly

Report
HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE
GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
PROFESSOR DAVID McQUOID-MASON
CENTRE FOR SOCIO-LEGAL STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL
INTRODUCTION
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CELEBRATING HUMAN RIGHTS
THE GOOD
THE BAD
THE UGLY
PERPETUAL VIGILANCE
CELEBRATING HUMAN RIGHTS
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WE HAVE MUCH TO CELEBRATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
THE YOKE OF APARTHEID HAS BEEN LIFTED – ALTHOUGH ITS CONSEQUENCES
ARE STILL APPARENT
THE DIGNITY OF THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION HAS BEEN RESTORED
AND THEY CONTROL THE LEVERS OF POWER - ALTHOUGH THE ECONOMIC
LEVERS OF POWER ARE STILL HELD BY A MINORITY
UNLIKE UNDER APARTHEID ,INTERNATIONALLY SOUTH AFRICANS ARE
WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS WHEREVER WE TRAVEL
FOREIGNERS COME TO OUR COUNTRY TO SEE THE ‘MIRACLE COUNTRY’ THAT
DID NOT DESCEND INTO CIVIL WAR AND HAS GREAT NATURAL WONDERS
HOWEVER, WHILE HUMAN RIGHTS DAY IS A DAY OF CELEBRATION , IT IS ALSO
A TIME FOR REFLECTION
WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BE COMPLACENT AND NEED TO TAKE TIME TO FOCUS
ON THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY IN OUR NEW DEMOCRACY
THE GOOD
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WE HAVE A BILL OF RIGHTS IN OUR CONSTITUTION THAT IS THE ENVY OF THE WORLD
AND COVERS JUSTICIABLE CIVIL AND POLITICAL, SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL
AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS
WE HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DO MANY THINGS THAT COULD NOT BE DONE UNDER
APARTHEID
WE HAVE CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED POSITIVE DUTIES IMPOSED ON THE STATE
TO PROVIDE OUR PEOPLE WITH MANY BASIC SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS
WE HAVE PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATION ON THE STATUTE BOOKS DEALING WITH
EVERYTHING FROM ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE TO
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, HEALTH AND CHILD JUSTICE
WE HAVE GOVERNMENT POLICIES THAT EXHORT PUBLIC SERVANTS TO APPLY THE
‘BATHO PELE’ (PEOPLE FIRST) PRINCIPLE TO THE PUBLIC THEY SERVE
WE ARE BLESSED WITH A WEALTH OF NATURAL RESOURCES ATTRACTIVE TO INVESTORS
AND A CLIMATE AND NATURAL BEAUTY ATTRACTIVE TO TOURISTS
AT PRESENT WE ARE STILL THE ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE OF AFRICA ALTHOUGH WE
ARE STARTING TO SLIP BECAUSE OF OUR SLOW ECONOMIC GROWTH RATE
THE BAD
• A NEW FORM OF APARTHEID HAS EMERGED BASED ON POLITICAL POWER,
PATRONAGE AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
• SOUTH AFRICA IS A COMPARATIVELY RICH COUNTRY BUT CRONY
CAPITALISM KEEPS THE POOR TRAPPED IN POVERTY BY DIVERTING THE
RESOURCES OF THE STATE TO GROSSLY INFLATED ‘SWEET HEART’ DEALS
WITH THE POLITICALLY CONNECTED
• STATE RESOURCES ARE WASTED ON PAMPERING MEMBERS OF THE
GOVERNMENT WITH UNJUSTIFIABLY EXPENSIVE TRAVEL, ENTERTAINMENT
AND ACCOMMODATION ARRANGEMENTS THAT IN OTHER DEMOCRACIES
WOULD LEAD TO THEIR DISMISSAL OR RESIGNATION
• VAST SUMS OF MONEY ARE WASTED ON CONSULTANTS BY INCOMPETENT
AND INSECURE POLITICAL APPOINTEES DEPLOYED IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
UNABLE TO DO THE JOBS FOR WHICH THEY ARE APPOINTED
THE UGLY
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CORRUPTION IS RIFE IN OUR COUNTRY – IN BOTH THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
SECTOR – THE ONE FEEDING ON THE OTHER
VIOLENCE IS ENDEMIC – SEXUAL VIOLENCE, GENDER VIOLENCE, CRIMINAL
VIOLENCE, XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE, VIOLENCE BY THE POLICE ETC.
THE STATE SECURITY APPARATUS BEHAVES AT TIMES LIKE THE APARTHEID
SECURITY FORCES (E.G. MARIKANA)
SERVICE DELIVERY PROTESTORS – INCLUDING UNIVERSITY STUDENTS – ARE
ONLY LISTENED TO AND GET RESULTS IF THEY RESORT TO VIOLENCE
ACCOUNTABILITY - AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF DEMOCRACY – IS
UNDERMINED BY THE CURRENT ELECTORAL SYSTEM BECAUSE OUR ELECTED
REPRESENTATIVES ARE NO LONGER ELECTED BY, OR ACCOUNTABLE TO US –
THEY ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO THEIR POLITICAL PARTIES
TRANSPARENCY – ANOTHER KEY COMPONENT OF DEMOCRACY - IS UNDER
THREAT - DESPITE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS AND PROGRESSIVE
LEGISLATION ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION - BY THE USE OF APARTHEID ERA
LEGISLATION ON ‘KEY POINTS’ AND THE INTRODUCTION OF THE ‘SECRECY
BILL’WHICH MAY LEAD TO THE CONCEALMENT OF CORRUPTION
PERPETUAL VIGILANCE
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THE PRICE OF DEMOCRACY AND ENSURING THAT HUMAN RIGHTS THRIVE IS
PERPETUAL VIGILANCE
AFTER 1994 WHEN WE ATTAINED DEMOCRACY MANY IN CIVIL SOCIETY
TENDED TO RELAX AND LEAVE MATTERS TO THE NEW DEMOCRATIC
GOVERNMENT WHICH INCLUDED MANY OF OUR FORMER COLLEAGUES
MANY NOW REALIZE THAT THIS WAS A MISTAKE AND WE NEED TO HELP THE
COUNTRY TO REGAIN ITS MORAL COMPASS
CIVIL SOCIETY NEEDS TO BE RE-ENERGISED TO FIGHT THE NEXT BATTLE TO
COMPEL THE POLITICIANS AND GOVERNMENT TO DELIVER ON THE PROMISES
IN THE CONSTITUTION AND TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN THE COUNTRY BY:
– INTRODUCING AN ELECTORAL SYSTEM THAT IS ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE NOT
ONLY THE POLITICAL PARTIES CONCERNED
– ESTABLISHING A CREDIBLE AND PROFESSIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE NOT BASED ON
PATRONAGE AND CADRE DEPLOYMENT
– ENSURING THAT THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS DESIGNED FOR A WINNING NATION AND
NOT A NATION OF BARELY LITERATE AND NUMERATE LOSERS BY WORLD STANDARDS
– LIFTING THE BARRIERS TO JOB CREATION THAT PREVENT THE UNEMPLOYED FROM
OBTAINING JOBS

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