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ARTICLE: THE ROLE OF THE SANDF IN SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY

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In view of recent developments and unfolding events in South Africa’s neighbour, Zimbabwe, it is perhaps the opportune moment to examine the role of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) within South Africa’s constitutional democracy. As with most nations, South Africa maintains a military force, which in terms of the Constitution, is meant to “provide for the defence of the Republic”. The Defence Act further sets out the parameters on how the military interacts with civil society. The SANDF is above party-politics and is non-partisan. Importantly, the SANDF is subject to civilian oversight, as well as control by the Minister of Defence.

The Constitution further establishes the governing principles of South Africa’s national security as reflecting the resolve “to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life”.

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ARTICLE: ONE STEP FORWARD, TEN STEPS BACK FOR THE SABC

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The President has finally appointed the permanent Board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Whilst the appointment is most welcome, it comes with some red flags raised regarding some appointees, as well as regarding the circumstances surrounding the timing of the appointment.

The appointment came the day after the Presidency missed a deadline to file opposing papers in a court application initiated by the Media Monitoring Project Benefit Trust, the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and the Freedom of Expression Institute. The application was triggered by the President’s delay in making the appointment, which left the SABC in a precarious position without a stable governance body.

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ARTICLE: PRESIDENT MUST APPOINT PERMANENT BOARD

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It has been almost a month since Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications concluded its interview process for the appointment of individuals to serve on the permanent Board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The President has yet to appoint the 12 recommended individuals. This is a cause for concern, considering that the official term of the interim Board expired on Tuesday, 26 September. This failure to appoint has left an institution looking to make its way out of the woods, without a captain to steer the ship.

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STATEMENT: ROT AT SABC SLOWLY LIFTING

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The Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) welcomes today’s decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the matter involving South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalist and part of the ‘SABC 8’, Vuyo Mvoko. The decision, which sees his original contract with the SABC reinstated, also has the SABC pay for the legal costs he incurred in challenging the unlawful conduct of the SABC. Importantly, the decision underscores key constitutional values which should undergird public administration in the nation.

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ARTICLE: THE NEW SABC – A TRUE PUBLIC BROADCASTER

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In March 2017, the President appointed five individuals to the Interim Board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). These individuals were appointed following the implementation of the recommendations of Parliament’s ad hoc committee inquiry into the SABC. The Interim Board was appointed to guide the Broadcaster to calmer waters over a transitionary period fraught with many changes. One of the recommendations of the ad hoc committee was the establishment of a permanent Board. On 5 September, the Interim Board finalised 12 names for the permanent Board. After an open and public nomination process, followed by a similarly transparent interview process by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, these names have been published. The names await confirmation by the President.

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ARTICLE: IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING, MADAM PUBLIC PROTECTOR

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Why did the Public Protector initially refuse to give ABSA, one of the parties cited, a copy of the ABSA bailout report, only to relent at the threat of legal action? Why did the Public Protector give a copy of the same report to the Gupta-family funded pressure group, Black First Land First (BLF), without extending the same courtesy to Adv Paul Hoffman, the complainant in the matter, or even the likes of former President Thabo Mbeki, whose name features prominently in the report? Even more disturbing, as the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) charged today in papers filed before the Gauteng High Court of South Africa in Pretoria, the fact that she consulted with both the Presidency and the State Security Agency (SSA) and neglected to include transcripts of the meetings.

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CASE DISCUSSION: MADIBA AND OTHERS V MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE AND OTHERS

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The South Gauteng High Court recently handed down judgment in a matter concerning the dissolution of the Board of the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). It is common knowledge that this constitutionally-established body has failed monumentally to meet its mandate and fulfil its objectives. This has been true from its inception. Whilst the decision is notable because it brought a much-needed halt to the hijacking of PanSALB for personal financial gain, an important ruling concerning unscrupulous legal practitioners was made.

Briefly, the facts of the case are that in January 2016, the Minister of Arts and Culture (the Minister) sent a letter to the First Applicant, Madiba – the Chairperson of the Board – informing him of his decision to dissolve said Board. Section 5(5A) of the Pan South African Language Board Act (PanSALB Act) authorises the Minister to dissolve the Board on any reasonable grounds. The applicants (all members of the Board) were appointed in April 2014. Following the receipt of the letter, Madiba, allegedly on behalf of the entire Board, applied to the Court requesting a declaration that the Minister’s decision to dissolve the Board was unlawful and invalid. He also requested the decision to be reviewed and set aside.

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ARTICLE: ANOTHER OBSTACLE TO ACCOUNTABILITY

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On Tuesday, 15 August, a number of African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament (MPs) wrote a letter to the party’s Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, informing him that they would not be attending any Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meetings chaired by their fellow ANC MP, Makhosi Khoza. They attributed this to her open criticism of President Jacob Zuma and her controversial support for the recently conducted Motion of No Confidence vote. While Mthembu has strongly condemned the conduct of the concerned MPs, the five individuals boycotted the Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee meeting scheduled to question its corresponding Minister, Faith Muthambi, which is, incidentally, chaired by Khoza.

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STATEMENT: SETTING ASIDE THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR’S RECOMMENDATION WELCOMED

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The Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) welcomes today’s decision handed down by the Johannesburg High Court regarding the powers of the Public Protector. The decision set aside the Public Protector’s recommendation that the Constitution be amended to change the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and further dismissed the Public Protector’s recommendation that the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and the SARB submit an action plan detailing how the remedial action recommendation would be implemented.

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