South Africans have, on countless occasions, been failed and betrayed by an uncaring government. We have a government infested with inept bureaucrats. This is exacerbated by arrogance and corruption. In this depressing atmosphere, our courts have been a beacon of hope.
The ARV programme that government gloats is the best in the world was not rolled out voluntarily. It took the brave action of the Treatment Action Campaign, who dragged the Thabo Mbeki administration to court.
The courts also halted the scandalous violation of Limpopo’s children’s right to basic education when government failed to deliver textbooks to hundreds of schools. President Jacob Zuma has also had many of his dubious appointments to key government positions invalidated by the courts, most notably that of Menzi Simelane in 2009 as National Director of Public Prosecutions.
It is doubtful whether Zuma would have agreed to reimburse the state for the multimillion-rand nonsecurity upgrades to his Nkandla private home had he not been taken to court by opposition parties.
This week, the courts once again came to the party, saving overburdened South Africans from corporate swindling. On Tuesday, the high court in Pretoria ruled that the decision by the National Energy Regulator of SA to approve Eskom’s abnormally large hike was “irrational, unfair and unlawful”.
Since April, consumers have been paying 9.4% more for electricity. It is believed the court’s ruling could mean the power utility would have to reimburse consumers the difference between 2016 and last year’s increases.
SA is facing some of the worst challenges since the dawn of democracy. But citizens can take solace in the knowledge that our democracy remains intact – with the support of strong independent institutions and our courts, which have not hesitated to revoke irrational decisions of the executive and state-owned entities.