South Africa: Legal System Nearing Meltdown - Time for Action Is Now


The incoherence of South African economic policy, tepid growth and the inability to develop a plausible strategy to ensure a reliable electricity supply notwithstanding, it is arguably the state of key institutions that pose the greater threat to the generation of investment that can finally power the economy into a mechanism to deliver a dignified life for all who live in this country.

The Office of the Public Protector was designed by our constitutional parents as a critical institution to ensure efficient and corruption-free public services. The main defenders of the present incumbent are a motley group, all linked by allegations which, under a previous public protector would have been the subject matter of investigations.

As the possibility of a carefully calibrated investigation through Parliament takes place, the public protector is promising litigation, or a new Stalingrad chapter in the saga of endless abuse of the country's legal system. The resolution of this problem will take a long time, thereby leaving this key office under a continuing cloud.

The one defence the public protector has articulated constantly is that she holds the equivalent of a judicial position and thus when her decisions are overturned, it is similar to a judgment...

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