The brewing tug-of war between South Africa's Chapter 9 Institutions: The Public Protector vs the Independent Electoral Commission

Nomthandazo Ntlama


The release of the Public Protector’s final report on the allegations of maladministration against the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission has put under the microscope the development of the principles of the rule of law within the context of the powers and functions of these institutions in furthering the objectives of the new constitutional dispensation. It generated debates on whether these institutions are fulfilling their duty of promoting constitutional democracy or are at each other’s throats. These debates rests on the interrelationship that exist between the principle of accountability and the legitimate role that is played by the institutions themselves in ensuring the proper and effective strengthening of South Africa’s democracy. The debates also focus on the government’s commitment to the advancement of the rule of law in the regulation of state authority.

Against this background, this paper examines the application of the principle of the rule of law within the framework of Chapter 9 institutions with particular reference to the Public Protector and the Independent Electoral Commission. Such undertaking is motivated by the recent release of the report as indicated above which reinforced the objective of having established the ‘anti-corruption and ethical institutions in bringing about good governance’ who subsequently became embroiled in a “cat-fight†over the legitimacy of their powers. The intention is not to analyse the constitutional status or history of these institutions but rather on the factors that have the potential to compromise their integrity and legitimacy in upholding the principles of the rule of law as foundational values of the new dispensation.

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