December 12, 2008

MWALIMU (Vol 1.3/4. – Third & Fourth Quarter 2008)

Filed under: Mwalimu (Vol 1.3/4. - Third & Fourth Quarter 2008) — newritings @ 11:11 pm


(The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation)


This double edition of MWALIMU (3 and 4) covers a range of historic events internationally and at home: internationally, the USA elects its first Black president and at home the formation of new political party from within the traditions of the Congress movement. The crisis in Zimbabwe seems to be still a boil on the sub region and much move. Add to all this the various battles in court, which will put our judiciary at a serious challenge to maintain its integrity and independence, as the country gears up for a national election early in 2009.

The judiciary, whilst undergoing transformation (and still has to further do so), is one of the instruments of justice that is now put on the frontline of the transformation discourse. As long as it continues to live by principle, it will continue to hold the support of the overwhelming majority of South Africans and Africans.

Akere Muna, vice chairperson of TI, outlined some of the values of judicial integrity at the launch of the Global Report of 2007 focussing on judicial justice. For TI, Muna argued these were important:

Firstly, we need to ensure that judges are independent from outside temptations by setting up sufficient salaries and strengthening the prestige of the profession by giving adequate training.

Secondly, an objective and transparent process should be in place for the appointments of judges at all levels. This will ensure that the best quality of judges is selected and they are independent of any political issues. Judges should not be left feeling they “owe” their appointment to anyone.

Thirdly, judicial accountability can be strengthened by more effective mechanisms for detecting corruption in the judiciary – a strong disincentive for corrupt behaviour. Measures such as limiting judicial immunity, vigorous rules for investigating complaints and defining clear rights for judges in disciplinary proceedings – such as a code of conduct – will help deter and shed light on corrupt practices.

Lastly civil society has a role to play in keeping the judicial systems accountable.

In SA we have many of these principles in place although there is always room for improvement, as we are still a very young democracy.

With all this talk of court cases involving elites, we may miss the point that whilst the law must protect all people – equally -, it is also based on the values of equity. Thus fundamentally the laws and the institutions of government must look after the weakest and most vulnerable members of society and limit the power of elites to abuse their power. The cases covered here from various newspapers make for interesting reading and will be a feature of future discussions in these pages.

This edition also features quite prominently on the current financial crisis caused by those who have and wanted more. It is a financial crisis made by the rich but will invariously be felt by the poor and the working people. At the time of writing, the ILO projected that at least 20 million jobs globally will be lost and the working people are being asked again to assist in a bailout!

According to Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman (“Lest we forget“, International Herald Tribune), the crisis was a long time and it “suggests that we should be worrying about financial reform, above all regulating the “shadow banking system” at the heart of the current mess, sooner rather than later. For once the economy is on the road to recovery, the wheeler-dealers will be making easy money again — and will lobby hard against anyone who tries to limit their bottom lines.

Moreover, the success of recovery efforts will come to seem preordained, even though it wasn’t, and the urgency of action will be lost. So here’s my plea: even though the incoming administration’s agenda is already very full, it should not put off financial reform. The time to start preventing the next crisis is now.

Hassen Lorgat (coordinator and contributor)


[1] This edition of Mwalimu will be on T-SA website in January 2009.

Go to Contents of Mwalimu (Vol 1.3/4)


1 Comment »

  1. […] Contents Filed under: Mwalimu (Vol 1.3/4. – Third & Fourth Quarter 2008) — newritings @ 9:30 pm · Editorial […]

    Pingback by Contents « newritings — December 28, 2008 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

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