The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, (“NADEL”), held its 32nd Annual General Meeting and Policy Conference starting from the 14th and concluded on the 17th March 2019. The conference proceedings were held at the Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg, under the theme “Poverty, Inequalities and Corruption Symptoms of a State in Gradual Collapse”.
The conference was attended by more than 300 (three hundred) delegates drawn from the ranks of attorneys, advocates, magistrates, Deans of law, representatives of law students from all Universities. The conference was the coming together of all progressive lawyers in the legal fraternity.
The conference saw together some of the country’s greatest legal minds, national and international dignitaries under one roof discussing a series of pertinent topics. The Keynote address on the theme was delivered by The President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Madam Mandisa Maya. The country’s newly appointed National Director of Public Prosecution, Advocate Shamila Batohi, addressed delegates to the conference under the theme, “Building a South Africa in which all shall enjoy human rights as equals”. The conference also discussed Land Reform, this discussion was led by a panel consisting of Adv. Gcina Malindi (NADEL Land Committee Chair), Mr Floyd Shivambu (Deputy President of the Economic freedom Fighters) and Solly Mapaila (the Second deputy general secretary, South African Communist Party)
Critical and difficult topics, which focused on the central challenges facing the society, were discussed and the conference delegates took critical resolutions in connection therewith. Below, are some of the sub-themes discussed by the delegates:
- Constitutional Review and the need for limitations and expansion of certain powers and terms of office set out in the Constitution. Reference, appointment of Judges- Constitutional Court.
- Appointment of Chapter 9 institutions, Public Protector and other senior political appointments.”
- A better South Africa shall only be realised once inequalities cease to exist
- “Corruption is a cancer eating the society – urgent appropriate response by the State Agencies”
- Bridging the gap between the two societies which exists in South Africa, the poor and the rich after 25 years of democracy
- The right to know – reasons for km judgment or orders:
“Whether the judgements or orders must now include leave to appeal in the Constitutional court and Supreme Court of Appeal, where leave of appeal is refused – a duty to give reasons”
The conference noted the following:
- Rampant corruption in both the public and private sector which is perpetuated with the aid of some unscrupulous, unethical and greedy public officials, international syndicates and some elements within the criminal and justice sector;
- The growing levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment which are all symptoms of a collapsing state. Corruption was identified as a serious threat against the rule of law, fulfillment of constitutional obligations for service delivery and better life of ordinary South Africans and South Africa;
- The conference noted with dismay the disfunctionality of the State Attorney’s office, slow pace of transformation in briefing of black practitioners, Africans and women in particular. The conference confirmed that the State is responsible for championing transformation agenda and therefore it is regrettable that State Attorney is not committed in the briefing the black practitioners, in particular Africans and women. The out sourcing and privatization of State legal to private big firms, in the Eastern Cape is a step in regress on transformation;
- The conference noted the challenges associated with the current fixed term of 12 (twelve) years for Constitutional Court Judges and in this regard resolve that there is a need to review the term prescribed for Constitutional Court Judges;
- The need for capacitating lawyers in order to deal with constitutional matters in particular socio – economic rights and the conference in this regard agreed that more training of practitioners should continue to be provided by NADEL;
- The delegates raised serious concerns on the failure rate of 95% and the composition of examiners for the conveyancing and notary courses. It was a view of the conference that conveyancing examinations, number of days for writing these exams, the format of the exam questions and the length should be reviewed. The composition of the examiners should be reviewed;
- The interference by the United States of America together with its allies on the independent state of Venezuela is against the rule of law and international law. States have an obligation to respect other states and the domestic affairs of each state.
During the evening of 16th of March, NADEL held its second Annual Pius Langa Memorial Lecture which was delivered by the Honorable Minister of Energy, Mr Jeff Radebe. Mr Radebe gave a touching recollection of his involvement with the Late Chief Justice describing the high moral character and values of the late Pius Langa. He encouraged all present to assimilate the values of Pius Langa.
NADEL also launched, the Pius Langa Human Rights Scholarship, which is to fund deserving student to pursue studies in the field of human rights.
NADEL is committed in ensuring that it continues to play a vital role in fighting social ills and all forms of injustices afflicting our country, as identified by the conference. In doing so, the delegates in the conference of NADEL passed a number of resolutions to ensure that it achieves the noble objective of free society in which all enjoy equal rights. Full detailed resolutions shall be issued shortly
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA
BY: Nolitha Jali
National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL)