This week in politics saw the first female National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) appointed but also the sad passing of two important South Africans, Former Diplomat Mendi Msimang and former Deputy Chairperson of the Truth and Reconcilation Commission (TRC) Dr Alex Boraine.
It also saw that affirmation of a Human Rights culture in the country which tied in with the proclamation of the National Minimum Wage.
In October, President Cyril Ramaphosa got independent institutions and legal organisations to identify possible candidates for the position of the NDPP. This after the court had given him 90 days to appoint a new NDPP and five members were short-listed .
In his appointment the President said the government was addressing the state of dysfunctionality and deficiencies in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Shamil Batohi will take up her position in February next year after serving her notice at the International Criminal Court (ICC) but on the heels of that euphoric moment came news of the passing away of Mendi Msimang of the African National Congress (ANC).
The former ambassador and ANC Treasurer-General was remembered for his selfless role in strengthening the ANC.
Another significant loss to the country was the passing of the late former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) deputy chairperson, Dr Alex Boraine.
Boraine passed away on Wednesday in Cape Town at the age of 87. He worked alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the TRC from 1996 to 1998. President Ramaphosa said the passing of Dr Boraine filled the country with sadness. He says Boraine’s death reminded South Africans of the role he played in opposing apartheid in all its forms.
In another twist of events, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) became the news of the day with the resignation of four of its board members and President Ramaphosa accepted their resignations. The confirmation sparked a flurry of accusations and counter accusations as to the reason behind this unexpected development.
Friday saw South Africa commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg saw among others government representatives, Commissioners from the Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Commission attend.
“In many countries, the fundamental recognition that all human beings are equal and have inherent rights, is under attack. The institutions so painstakingly set up by States to achieve common solutions to common problems are being undermined. The comprehensive web of international, regional and national laws and treaties that gave teeth to the vision of the Universal Declaration is also being chipped away by governments and politicians increasingly focused on narrow, nationalist interests. We all need to stand up more energetically for the rights it showed us everyone should have – not just ourselves, but all our fellow human beings – and which we are at constant risk of eroding through our own, and our leaders’ forgetfulness, neglect or wanton disregard,” says Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris three years after the end of World War II. It was the product of 18 months’ work by a drafting committee, with members and advisers from all across the world.