"Corruption and misadministration are inconsistent with the rule of law and the fundamental values of our constitution. They undermine the constitutional commitment to human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. They are the antithesis of the open, accountable, democratic government required by the Constitution. If allowed to go unchecked and unpunished they will pose a serious threat to our democratic state." - Judge Arthur Chaskalson, President of the South African Constitutional Court, 2000.
The Helen Suzman Foundation, in association with the Open Society For South Africa, hosted a QRS dealing with prisoners in remand and human rights. The aim of the QRS was to explore the issues currently faced by people who are placed in remand detention pending the finalisation of their court case. These issues include overcrowding, court delays, excessive time spent in remand, and an inability to qualify for bail amongst others.
This Roundtable examined the current relationship between government and the private sector in South Africa with a view to determining what role business itself should be playing. Specific questions addressed by the four panelists include: how does the strained relationship between government and business undermine South Africa’s ability to overcome its domestic challenges; what role do the various business organisations play in influencing the policy debate in South Africa; what role do the various business organisations play in influencing the policy debate in South Africa; and should the business sector engage publically with government about contentious issues or should they do it behind closed doors?
Issue Twenty One - September 2011 - Bridging the Gap between Constitutional Rights and Homophobic Realities
South Africa’s Constitution is one of the most liberal and inclusive in the world. In particular, the Bill of Rights, Article 9 (3), guarantees that, “No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone [on the grounds of] gender, sex, [or] sexual orientation.” Since the Constitutional dispensation, gay rights victories have been achieved in many areas: same-sex civil unions; same-sex adoption; same-sex spousal benefits; etc.
This particular Roundtable emerged out of ongoing discussions held with the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT) and with Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). Given the importance of the Arts in uniting, enlightening, and developing a rich and vibrant South African society, the Roundtable discussion explored how funding of the Arts can become more streamlined, co-ordinated and effective in order to enhance the sustainability of the Arts sector.
Francis Antonie, Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation and Chair for the evening, began by noting that as the evening’s roundtable takes place on the eve of the Municipal Elections, questions around the efficiency, effectiveness and the role of local government are up for discussion. He laid the foundation for the discussion by outlining several questions to frame the debate. These included questions around the capacity of local government, funding issues, the appropriateness of the structures of local government for dealing with corruption, and the susceptibility of the administrative structures to pressures from economic and political elites. He ended by posing the question, “Have we not set local government up for failure?”