Manuel slams Koloane appointment
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Durban - Former minister in the presidency Trevor Manuel has expressed concern about rewarding Bruce Koloane with an ambassadorship following a scandal that saw a private jet land at Waterkloof Air Force Base in April 2013.
Koloane, former chief of state protocol in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, was suspended that August when he was found directly responsible for allowing an Indian plane carrying a wedding party to land at a military-sensitive base.
Koloane took a year’s sabbatical after the incident, only to be announced in August as the new ambassador to the Netherlands.
Manuel used the Archie Gumede Memorial Lecture at the Maharani Hotel in Durban on Friday to raise concern about the erosion of values and ethics in civil society and the government.
The former finance minister delivered the keynote address on the former United Democratic Front president in an event organised by the Law Society of South Africa and the Archie Gumede Foundation.
Manuel quoted author Stein Ringen in A Nation of Devils saying good government depended on a combination of functional institutions and competent leadership.
“If institutions are dysfunctional, no competence can save the day. But functional institutions are only a necessary condition, never a sufficient one.”
Without directly naming Koloane and citing the Gupta plane scandal, Manuel said: “How do we feel about private planes landing at our military airports in clear violation of rules, and the parties fingered as culprits being rewarded afterwards?
“What emotions are evoked when plea-bargain deals are struck with known criminals who boast about their untouchability?” he said.
Manuel said trusted institutions were integral to Ringen’s arguments as they formed the basis of social cohesion.
“Our constitution creates a myriad of institutions in the context of trias politica. We trust these to support and lead us. We trust that our legislatures are adequately equipped to make laws that regulate our interaction.
Equally, we trust that the executive is competent to correctly implement these regulations, and to explain the functioning and ordering of society to us. We expect our courts to judge in a manner that always strikes us as wise, impartial and with integrity,” he said.
Manuel asked what happened when people rode roughshod over the recommendations of a Chapter 9 institution – be it the Auditor-General, Public Protector or Human Rights Commission, all designed to support our constitutional democracy.
“What are the consequences of wrongdoing or of ignoring the decisions of courts or the laws that were passed? Where should the buck stop when it appears members of the executive might be acting in a manner that appears to undermine the spirit of our constitution?
“Importantly, why did the drafters of our constitution see fit to provide citizens with the assurance of checks and balances provided by these institutions?”
He asked if government institutions were worthy of “our undiminished trust” .
“It is crucial that we return to the rationale for the inclusion of these matters in our constitution when we confront shifting public perceptions of trust and competence,” he said.
Manuel, quoting another writer, said a successful liberal democracy required a state that was strong, unified and able to enforce laws and a society that was strong, cohesive and able to impose accountability on the state. “It is the balance between a strong state and a strong society that makes democracy work.”