Asmal: How shall we honour this Titan?

2011-06-25 10:30

Kader Asmal, had he lived another two days, would be chortling with glee as he often did. Parliament’s ­ad-hoc committee, which is processing pernicious secrecy legislation, seemed to have to come to its senses on Friday.

Chairperson Llewellyn Landers announced a slate of changes which deal with the key criticisms of the Protection of Information Bill.

The power to classify state information has been limited, the mandatory jail sentence for possession has been dropped and the committee has stated, ­explicitly, that it will ensure the draft law’s ­constitutionality before its passage.

For Asmal, who on June 16 declared the bill to be a fatally flawed abomination, the changes are a victory and the sweetest possible epitaph. Asmal was the ultimate constitutionalist as his numerous obituaries have noted.

All his positions and values were viewed in relation to the Constitution, a ­document he played no small role in ­crafting.

His belief in the rule of law was laced ­into his DNA – it’s well known now that the reason he did not take a seat in Parliament was because he could not see himself signalling an “aye” when the law to dissolve the Scorpions was passed.

Those who have watched him since he left one political stage in 2008 and took to another will know that he was often aghast at how the ANC has ushered in an age of impunity where the law is often made to be an ass.

Examples include: the decision to throw out corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma before he took high office, the axing of the former national director of public prosecutions Vusi ­Pikoli, the extension of Chief Justice Sandile ­Ngcobo’s term, and the decision to close investigations into the arms deal even though evidence of hard bribery is now emerging almost daily.

To honour the Titan would be to return to constitutionalism as the sine qua non of public life, as Parliament did this week when it altered the Protection of Information Bill for the better.

The securocrats who seem to run so much of life in our country were beaten back by the constitutionalists made in Asmal’s mould. And this pattern must continue.

To honour the Titan would be to finally institute a judicial commission of inquiry and shoot the elephant in the room of our public life. The arms deal has harmed us.

It is like a blot that stains what this nation might become. For too long, it has been a skeleton rattling in the closet.

As our council of elders who first fought for and shaped the democracy depart, it is the role of the next generation to ensure that the values they put into the foundation of the country are ­sustained; that we build instead of break.

That is the most fitting headstone to raise to a fine soldier.

Hamba kahle, Prof, you lived a good life.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.