The suitability and unsuitability of ubuntu in constitutional law - inter-communal relations versus public office-bearing

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dc.contributor.author Malan, Jacobus J. (Koos)
dc.date.accessioned 2015-02-24T08:35:23Z
dc.date.available 2015-02-24T08:35:23Z
dc.date.issued 2014
dc.description.abstract In hierdie artikel word aangevoer dat ubuntu in bepaalde kontekste in die staatsreg van besondere waarde kan wees, maar dat die toepaslikheid daarvan op ander gebiede onder verdenking is. Wat die toepaslikheid daarvan betref, word geredeneer dat daar ’n korpus van reg, genaamd die reg van inter-gemeenskapsbetrekkinge aan die ontwikkel is. Die grondslag hiervan is in die wesensaard van die staat self. Op die keper beskou is die staat die beliggaming van, en waarborg vir die openbare vrede (of behoort dit ten minste so te wees). Die openbare vrede is op sy beurt afhanklik van die instandhouding van gesonde betrekkinge tussen gemeenskappe, by gebreke waarvan die veiligheid van die gemeenskappe in die gedrang kom en die stabiliteit, en trouens die voortbestaan van die staat self, in die gedrang kom. In die bespreking word met verwysing na die beskouing in Suid-Afrikaanse regspraak oor ubuntu aangevoer dat ubuntu saam met die verbod op haatspraak en dergelike verbiedinge wat die openbare vrede kan ontwrig, sowel as die internasionale reg rakende volksmoord en verwante internasionale misdade, die ontluikende reg van intergemeenskapsbetrekkinge, beliggaam. Daarenteen kan ubuntu egter treffend ontoepaslik wees naamlik op die gebied van openbare ampsbekleding. Die kernvraag by openbare ampsbekleding is of die ampsbekleër vir die openbare amp waarin sy/haar aangestel is, geskik is en die pligte wat met die amp vereenselwig word, soos dit in die toepaslike reg beskryf word, getrou (kan) uitvoer. Openbare ampsbekleding hang juis nie primêr van die persoonlike verhoudings van die ampsbekleër met die publiek of met die hoofde of ondersgeskiktes van die ampsbekleër af nie. Inteendeel, warm verhoudings kan juis verkeerdelik voortspruit uit oorwegings wat allermins met die betrokke amp vereenselwigbaar is. Dit kan voorkom omdat die kunsmatige identiteit van openbare ampsbekleding met vermeende ubuntugeïnspireerde knusse betrekkinge wat niks met die nakoming van openbare ampspligte te doen het nie, verwar word. Om hierdie rede is die aanwending van ubuntu-geïnspireerde goeie verhoudings in die konteks van openbare ampsbekding bevraagtekenbaar. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract The value of ubuntu, among other things encapsulating the notions of humaneness, human dignity, reconciliation, group solidarity, compassion, the establishment and the maintenance of warm relations and restorative justice is autochthonous to South African law, more in particular South African constitutional law. Lately it has come to play an increasingly important part in South African constitutional jurisprudence. It is not possible to measure exactly how prominent the place is that ubuntu occupies in the public order and in the public service. However, judging by the Constitutional Court, who observed that the spirit of ubuntu is part of the deep cultural heritage of the majority of the population,1 ubuntu might be far more important than one might generally tend to assume. This article assesses the relevance or otherwise of ubuntu in constitutional law. The discussion proceeds from the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court on ubuntu, thus beginning in section 2 with an overview of the judicial pronouncements on ubuntu. This discussion casts light on the definition and the field of application of ubuntu as viewed by the courts. There is a corpus of South African academic literature on ubuntu.2 In this corpus ubuntu is generally very favourably viewed. However, there is also stinging critique against ubuntu as for example in the thoroughly researched article by Ilze Keevy, who argues that ubuntu is fundamentally at odds with the values of equality and tolerance as endorsed by the South African constitution.3 Moreover, even those who generally praised ubuntu as a lofty ethicallegal value complex, encounter serious difficulties in their attempts to offer a workable core-definition of ubuntu.4 Moreover, some attempts to define ubuntu were to my mind so airy-fairy that they fail to communicate anything of value about ubuntu.5 For that reason, but for a few exceptions such as the discussion by Bilchitz, the academic commentary is mainly left aside in this article. The focus instead is on ubuntu as assessed by the courts. In the next two sections of the article the rightful place that ubuntu should occupy in constitutional law is considered. Hence, if there is a place for ubuntu, as the affirming dicta of the courts clearly suggest, the question is how to delineate the boundaries of its applicability, and how to clarify where ubuntu should have a place and a role and where not. It is argued in section 3, and this leads to the first conclusion, that ubuntu could be relevant and even of crucial importance in the sphere of inter-communal relations and for the maintenance of inter-communal peace, which is an essential condition for the very existence and survival of the state. In this context ubuntu may be playing an important part in what is here termed (an emerging) law of inter-communal relations, which is in fact a core issue of constitutional law and for the well-being of the state. However, in section 4 it is argued that there is a field of constitutional law where it would be inappropriate to allow ubuntu to play any part. This is in the context of certain aspects of public office-bearing, which is an essential aspect of constitutional law and on which the existence and well-being of the state depends. To allow ubuntu to play any part in this context could arguably be to the detriment of the state. en_ZA
dc.description.librarian hb2015 en_ZA
dc.description.uri http://www.dejure.up.ac.za/ en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Malan, K 2014, 'The suitability and unsuitability of ubuntu in constitutional law - inter-communal relations versus public office-bearing', De Jure, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. pp. 231-257. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 1466-3597
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/43799
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Pretoria University Law Press en_ZA
dc.rights Pretoria University Law Press en_ZA
dc.subject Ubuntu in constitutional law en_ZA
dc.subject Inter-communal relations en_ZA
dc.subject Public office-bearing en_ZA
dc.subject Ubuntu in die staatsreg en_ZA
dc.subject Intergemeenskapsbetrekkinge en_ZA
dc.subject Openbare ampsbekleding en_ZA
dc.title The suitability and unsuitability of ubuntu in constitutional law - inter-communal relations versus public office-bearing en_ZA
dc.title.alternative Toepaslikheid en ontoepaslikheid van ubuntu in die staatsreg – intergemeenskapsbetrekkinge teenoor openbare ampsbekleding en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA


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