8 April 2016
Today we are in mourning, yet again.
In 1955, outraged at the apartheid government’s actions to enlarge the Senate that enabled clauses of the 1910 Constitution to be amended to exclude a cohort of voters, women of South Africa came together to form the Black Sash. The movement mourned the lost potential of our country, the erosion of human rights, the silencing of people and decried impunity.
We were elated in 1996 to unveil the country’s new constitution proudly proclaiming that ‘We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; and honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land…’ However, the Black Sash understood that this great joy came with the responsibility to mobilise citizens to continue to fight for and defend the hopes and dreams expressed in our constitution. We recognized our Constitutional Court and the Chapter 9 Institutions, in particular the Public Protector, were a clear break with the apartheid past.
Our Constitutional Court ruled that President Zuma acted unconstitutionally when he failed to comply with the remedial action required of him by the Public Protector for the Nkandla upgrades. President Zuma failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the Constitution. The conduct of the National Assembly was inconsistent with its constitutional obligations. On Friday 1 April 2016 the President offered a weak apology for his transgressions and for taking gross advantage of the trust given to him by the nation to honour the country’s constitutional democracy and safeguard its resources and riches.
The Black Sash, along with overwhelming civil society voices, state that explanations and an apology are simply grossly inadequate. We support the call of civil society for the President to step down as the first action of several remedial steps that need to be taken. We call on the ruling party to act to ensure the integrity of our constitution, the rule of law and democracy. We call on the President and the ruling party to implement the Constitutional Court remedies. We remind our leaders that the people of South Africa have once before toppled a deaf regime which believed itself to be above the law; and are able, willing and eager to take on the fight again.
For further information contact:
National Director, Lynette Maart, 021 686 6952