ANC reprieved? Zuma freed? Don’t expect fairness in ...

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ANC reprieved? Zuma freed? Don’t expect fairness in politics-obsessed SA

SA will pay dearly for rewarding suits who reward party loyalty instead of upholding the constitution

Columnist

Fairness. The word is fast losing all meaning in South African politics. My dictionary defines it as “treating people equally or in a way that is right or reasonable”. You don’t need a law professor to tell you something stinks in our state of delusion. If a lesser party had missed the deadline for registering its candidates for the election, would the IEC have thrown that minor political entity a lifeline? You know the answer. Would an ordinary criminal stuck behind bars be given a “get-out-of-jail card” (also known as medical parole) by the nation’s prison boss after serving only two months of a 15-month sentence? You don’t have to guess the response to that question either. Would the president come out with a statement for any other inmate and declare he “welcomed this” parole decision? You know the answer to all three questions is a resounding “no”.

The question that should keep us awake is one of fairness. With this rushed action it is crystal clear to the public that our government does not treat all citizens fairly. If you are politically connected you get special treatment, whether as an individual or a party. I do not want to hear another politician tell us what a great constitution we have. It is a meaningless document unless the values of the constitution are seen to be upheld when it comes to all of us, big and small. That is the real danger in the two events that started this column. They chip away at the rock that is our constitution, making us less sure and secure about the foundations of our young democracy.

Do not be fooled by those comrades with sleek suits and shaven heads strategically deployed across the civil service, including the parole boards of correctional services. These are the people whose behaviour undermines fairness in the system. Their job is to repay debts and reward loyalties. Party is more important than government, loyalty to big men more than fidelity to the constitution. As we saw recently, the courts are among the strongest institutions of our democracy; those implementing the courts decisions, among the weakest...

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