President and MPs should be reined in – Mbeki on Nkandla judgment

11 April 2016 - 13:46 By TMG Digital

The president of South Africa should undergo regular reviews to ensure the incumbent is upholding the constitutional democracy that people fought and died for‚ former president Thabo Mbeki said on Monday. And MPs should be formally taught that they are elected to serve the people – not to deliver blind party loyalty.Mbeki’s remarks are contained in an essay commenting on the Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla‚ President Jacob Zuma’s private home‚ which he said raised many vitally important issues about the functioning of South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy.He reminded the country that the decision to establish a constitutional democracy “was born out of the immense sacrifices that were made by countless numbers of our people‚ up to and including the sacrifice of many lives” and that it sought to entrench an outcome which would help to ensure that the need should never arise again for future generations to have to make similar sacrifices.Thabo Mbeki's full letter on Zuma, Nkandla and the Constitutional CourtMbeki said a constitutional democracy means that “all Members of the Judiciary‚ others in the Criminal Justice System‚ as well as all those who serve in other State Organs should not allow themselves to be ‘owned’ by any Political Party and/or any other interest”.“The President has the duty to ensure that State resources are used only for the advancement of State interests‚" he noted.“Parliament must take all necessary measures to satisfy itself that the person it elects is capable of and is committed to this discharge of their Constitutional responsibilities in our Constitutional Democracy; Subsequently‚ in honouring its oversight responsibilities over the Executive‚ Parliament should regularly make an assessment of whether the elected President is indeed carrying out his/her Constitutional responsibilities.”He said it is also important for South Africans to understand the observations made by the Constitutional Court on the National Assembly‚ including its comments that Parliament “is the watchdog of State resources (and) the enforcer of fiscal discipline".Mbeki recommended that: “All Political Parties must ensure that their Parliamentary members understand that their first responsibility as Members of Parliament‚ above Party loyalty‚ is to serve as the ‘voice of all South Africans‚ especially the poor‚ the voiceless and the least remembered’."Parliament‚ he said‚ should conduct induction processes for MPs so that they understand they have an individual and collective responsibility under the law.“The Parliamentary Presiding Officers in particular must ensure that Parliament implements all decisions handed down by the Courts relating to Parliament‚ consistent with the Separation of Powers‚ including as this relates to oversight over the Executive and the State Organs.”

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