By Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London
These are dark days for southern Africa. The last month has seen xenophobic riots and killings in Zambia, once an almost immaculately peaceful country, and the reinstatement of several hundred corruption charges which could be delivered against South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.
Times have changed in Zambia since its first president, Kenneth Kaunda, galvanised the country’s 72 ethnic groups (not counting European and Indian populations) into a united nation. During his decades in power, he defied the white minority regimes to his south, Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa. He hosted the exile headquarters of the ANC and sheltered the Namibian exile group SWAPO, whose country South Africa occupied in defiance of the UN.
Landlocked Zambia took a terrible hammering as the white regimes controlled its transport links to the sea. From time to time there were military incursions into Lusaka, the capital city – yet the Zambians took it all with a stoicism born of genuine solidarity.
But times have changed. Kaunda’s successors have not developed their own moral stature, and the country has been badly mismanaged.
By Hugh Corder, University of Cape Town
The accountability of public governance in South Africa has come a long way since 1994. When the transitional constitution was hammered out in negotiations in 1993, the primary consideration was to establish an unshakeable commitment to government under law in terms of a binding constitution.
Founded on the “rule of law”, this means that no one is above the law and that everyone is formally equal before the ordinary courts. No-one, not even the president, may take the law into their own hands. One of the founding values of the constitution is the:
… supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.
The brand of democracy enshrined in the final constitution of 1996 emphasises participation by the people in a multi-party system of democratic government, to achieve “accountability, responsiveness and openness”.
Recognising the democratic deficit that South Africa faced because of the ravages of apartheid, additional mechanisms were introduced to strengthen participative democracy and popular accountability. One of them was the establishment of the office of the Public Protector.
The Constitutional Court’s judgment in Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance v The Speaker of the National Assembly, the President and Others represents the exercise of judicial authority and expertise at the highest level by international standards.