In the name of ignorance: trampling on the powers of institutions supporting constitutional democracy in South Africa

22 May 2017

In Public Administration, good governance is generally associated with efficient and effective administration in a democratic state. In other words, good governance assures that corruption is minimised, the views of the minority are taken into account, and the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It specifically relates to the capacity of the centre of power of a political and administrative system to cope with the emerging challenges of the society. Therefore, governments across the world have constituted various mechanisms for promoting good governance. In South Africa, Chapter 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 is solely dedicated to the Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy and by extension promoting good governance. This article argues that some Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy are more effective than others and the powers of the effective ones are often challenged by both the legislature and the executive, thereby trampling on the principles of separation of powers and those of good governance respectively. This article is premised on the understanding that governance means the process by which decisions are implemented or not implemented. The article presents a case study of the executive and the legislature’s decision to trample on the powers of the Public Protector (one of the effective institutions supporting democracy in South Africa) and the subsequent cold contestations of the Constitutional Court judgement, all in the name of ignorance. The findings of the Constitutional Court on the matter of the powers of the office of the Public Protector provides the public with the opportunity to observe the workings of the Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy in South Africa in the quest for promoting good governance.