Sunday, March 01, 2009

Oh, South Africa, you crazy country.

So, I was reading this article in The Guardian this morning as I ate my breakfast and waited for the rugby (go Quins!) and was pretty annoyed.

The jist is that the ANC has added Winnie Mandela to their list of parliamentary candidates for the election in April, despite a constitutional bar on convicted prisoners serving in elected office until 5 years after their sentence has been completed (see § 47). Winnie was sentenced to 5 years (later reduced to 3.5 suspended sentence years) for fraud in 2003 (the appeal was in 2004). Now, there is some ambiguity because the Constitution bars any person who "is convicted of an offence [sic] and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine" from sitting in Parliament and Winnie had a suspended sentence. I don't know anything about South African case law, but it seems that this is a job for the lawyers.

What really toasted me was this statement, actually:
"The ANC, probably rightly, believes that the majority of voters do not care whether she has a criminal conviction," said Rapule Tabane, the political editor of the South African weekly Mail & Guardian.
No offense to the journalist, who I think is probably stating the truth, it's just that this seemingly blatant disregard for the rule of law is one of the things that I really, really dislike about the ANC. You see it with Zuma, who's used his political stature to avoid prosecution, with the officials at my old municipality who seemed to think that their ANC status gave them impunity when they stole from the citizens, and probably a million other examples from all over the country.

Or, let's be honest, I just hate it when people disregard the rule of law in any country, but I get especially upset when I see South Africa, a country with so many problems and so much promise, going down that same road. Show some discipline, for pete's sake, and respect the government that you built out of the ashes of apartheid!