UWC Dean of Law, Prof Jacques de Ville, DVC: Academic Prof Vivienne Lawack and keynote speaker and alumnus, Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Mahomed Navsa at the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture, celebrating the Faculty’s 40th anniversary and its evolution “From Bush to Bench”.
Civil Society and the media must continue to insist that the principles of the rule of law as enshrined in the South African Constitution find application - by prescribing responsible, accountable and transparent governance - and must continue to expose a lack of adherence, said Constitutional Court Judge and UWC alumnus, Justice Mahomed Navsa.
Navsa delivered the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at the UWC Law Faculty’s 40th Anniversary gala event on Friday, 25 October on the topic “Understanding, Protecting, Promoting and Entrenching the Rule of Law – What Individuals, Constitutional Institutions, State Entities and Civil Society Must Do”.
After exploring a meaningful definition of the term “Rule of Law”, Navsa concluded that our Constitution, in providing that all spheres of government must ‘secure the well-being of the people of the Republic and provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government for the Republic as a whole’, is “as intrinsic to the rule of law as one can get”.
“Other arms of Government must ensure that in the legislative process, in administration and in setting policy and fixing priorities, these principles apply. Corruption and maladministration result when this is not done.
“The electorate must demand this kind of governance. Civil society and the media must continue to insist on it and continue to expose a lack of adherence to these fundamental principles.”
Referring to state-owned entities that are “awash with reports of maladministration and corruption” in the media, Navsa said: “They are entrusted with hundreds of millions of Rands of public funds. Given the needs of the millions of poverty-stricken citizens, we can ill-afford to continue putting up with the continued mismanagement of public funds. Corruption has been endemic. The sheer scale has been beyond imagination.”
“It must be impressed on those who govern these entities that if they resort to theft, bribery or any other form of corruption, they will be met with the full force of the law. We must prosecute … all forms of corruption and send a strong message that it is no longer business as usual.”
Navsa said it was up to each citizen to prevent the erosion of the rule of law.
“We are at a fragile moment in our history, seeking to rebuild our nation so that the promise of the Constitution is not beyond reach. Those who are in public office to benefit themselves must be rooted out.
“We cannot afford to fail the poor and the vulnerable. We must ensure that public funds are used to benefit those who most need them. We must all be part of a movement that champions the rule of law, and have a common understanding that if the rule of law is advanced, we will be better off as a people,” he said.