Separation of Powers Best Defence of Our Democracy

Cape Times (South Africa), November 29, 2011 | Go to article overview

Separation of Powers Best Defence of Our Democracy


The freedoms of expression and association as well as the principles of natural justice, like "you cannot be a judge in your own case" and "hearing both sides before making a judgement" are among the fundamental principles enshrined in our constitution.

These principles apply to every citizen, natural or corporeal as well as every state institution including the executive, Parliament and the judiciary. The sum total of all these principles is the promotion of an open and democratic society. I would like to emphasise the "OPEN" part of our society. It is my belief that a secretive and closed society stands no chance at being democratic.

In everything we do as responsible citizens, we have to ask ourselves; am I promoting the society as envisaged in our constitution or undermining it? Again this question applies to everybody, but most importantly to those the society has entrusted with our wellbeing.

In a professional world the mantra is "get the best man/woman for the job". All things being equal, the determination of who is best for the job is objective and transparent and based on qualities and qualification that, over time have been established as needed in the performance of the specific job. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to political appointments.

Everybody is guaranteed freedom of association and to contest whatever public political office there is in the country, political deployments aside. More than often the success in politics is based on the charisma of the candidate and the emotional wooing of the electorate. This does not always bring about quality leadership, as we can see from the current leaders of our government, however, the process is protected in our democracy and guaranteed in our constitution.

The question arises as to how do we protect ourselves against inept leaders, who at best will be more preoccupied with covering up their failures, or their corruption, or both.

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Separation of Powers Best Defence of Our Democracy
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