Masterclass on Rule of Law

5 December 2019 12:04pm
Masterclass on Rule of Law

Prof Madonsela Shares Rule of Law Insights in Cape Town

[CAPE TOWN, 2 December 2019] Legal technology company LexisNexis South Africa was privileged to host Professor Thuli Madonsela recently in Cape Town in a fascinating and engrossing Rule of Law Masterclass. Prof. Madonsela illustrated the masterclass with references to rule of law lessons learnt when her Thuli Madonsela Executive Climb expedition summitted Kilimanjaro on 9 August as the second of two summit groups in this year’s annual Trek4Mandela initiative.

Among these lessons is the principle that everyone is equal before the law, and if people are expected to obey the law, laws need to be clear and applied consistently throughout society.

Professor Madonsela said that as citizens we also need to be assured that we can appeal any injustices, and that our political, economic and social leaders have integrity, otherwise we will not comply with the law.

It was Professor Madonsela’s championship of the Rule of Law which attracted LexisNexis – a strong proponent of this concept globally – to endorse the expedition as its main sponsor and to have two of its own women among the 23 who summited the mountain. In doing so the group raised funds for sanitary education and essentials for underprivileged girls through the Imbumba Foundation’s Caring4Girls programme.

Professor Madonsela said the supremacy of the Constitution and by extension the protection of human rights are vital in allowing the Rule of Law to prosper. This means that societies need to be assured that they are governed by accountable leaders; who draft good legislation; in a system which gives them proper access to justice, otherwise there will be no participation or support by people in the democratic process.

Over the past few “lost” years she said we have seen in South Africa how the rule of law has come under threat. She called it a fragile creation which is dependent on the supremacy of the constitution and not the supremacy of the President or Parliament. “Lawfare” – in which the legal system is abused by unscrupulous politicians against their opponents, and the impunity of those involved in State Capture – are but a few examples of abuses.

Professor Madonsela said that in the absence of the Rule of Law state institutions would collapse, as citizens opt out and resort to self-help (such as violence, train burning and non-payment of rates) because they feel that democracy is not working for them.

In discussing this aspect Prof. Madonsela emphasised the necessity that all rights, not just social and economic rights, be upheld, and for the pressing needs of social injustice and inequality to be addressed by everyone.

She said that even when individuals might feel they cannot do much, they can succeed in advancing the rule of law by demanding that lawmakers draft better laws; trying to understand the law; doing no wrong – by simply obeying the law; and by trying to advance peace and justice wherever possible.