The Helen Suzman Foundation hosted a lively panel discussion at the Rosebank Hotel on the 14 October 2009. Former HSF Director Raenette Taljaard chaired the discussion and the panel made up of Neren Rau (CEO Sacci); Aubrey Matshiqi (independent analyst), Azar Jammine (Econometrics) and William Gumede (independent analyst) provided thought provoking and substantive comment. The discussion covered two new Green Papers: National Strategic Planning and Improving Government Performance, submitted by Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane respectively.
The election campaign for the fourth democratically elected Government and Parliament of the Republic of South Africa has been one of the most expensive in our history. As our political parties spawn new market entrants into the party political space and others grow and consolidate their financial needs magnify accordingly. In terms of existing laws and regulations, particularly the fund established in accordance with the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Fund Act.
South Africa’s economic policy landscape has experienced one global financial crisis before. It emanated from Asia in the early 1990s, uncomfortably coinciding with our country’s transition to democracy at a time when a new administration had to win the hearts and minds, and confidence, of the global economy and international investors. The response to this crisis, the fiscal austerity of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR) adopted by the South African government in 1996, was, and remains, a controversial policy response. It caused significant strain within the tripartite alliance, despite there clearly being very little domestic policy room amid a deepening crisis that engulfed all emerging markets and confronted a new government with no economic-policy track record with immediate and complex questions.
The longevity of founding documents, declarations and constitutions are the preserve of all citizens who care about the ethos that inspires the societies they inhabit, and it lies in a complex process of internalising the visionary values of these social contracts and acting, and structuring our actions and our words, every day, to further the ideals espoused in them.
The past year has been a challenging one for South Africa’s judiciary. It has been both the object and subject of much political controversy. Judges have been in the spotlight of controversy, senior political leaders of various affiliations have brazenly and calculatedly attacked the judiciary under the guise of legitimate criticism and judges themselves have acted in ways that have posed new challenges for the judiciary as a whole (with a judge of the High Courts and the justices of the Constitutional Court at loggerheads). The situation has furthermore posed challenges for the operation and procedures of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and the concept of judicial misconduct and for the manner in which the public view the judiciary, the legitimacy of the courts and the justness of rulings from the bench.
The Helen Suzman Foundation thought it prudent – with an election campaign mere months away – and the Electoral Task Teams’ call for a new mixed electoral system to be in place by 2009 to convene our second QRS this year to discuss Electoral Reform and Responsive Representation. The debate around electoral reform in South Africa has had a distinct journey with constitutional negotiators opting for a system of closed-list proportional representation at national and provincial levels of government with a mixed system at local government level.