The Presidential Years

Another thing about him, I’m using Parliament, but also in a general sense the way he felt accountable to institutions.

When there was legislation on municipalities which would have affected the local government elections, it had been challenged legally. He had been informed that it had gone against the government. Early in the morning he called us to a meeting at his house and told us that he had been informed Parliament in that legislation had transferred certain things to be finalised by the president and that was the ground on which the Constitutional Court said, it can’t be done. I had warned Valli about this, because he was the minister responsible, when I first saw the legislation and Valli said, ‘We don’t have time.’ I told him, ‘It’s my job to let you know. What to do about it is your problem’, because as Parliament we always sat down and looked at especially important legislation. So when we met he told us this and Valli said, ‘You know Frene warned me about it but we had to do it because of the imminence of elections.’ So he asked, ‘How long will it take to change?’ and I said, ‘We can reconvene Parliament if necessary’, but even before I could finish he said, ‘But the one thing is this, we must respect the decision of the Constitutional Court, there can be no question of denying or in any way rejecting that.’

Similarly when Louis Luyt summonsed him to give evidence, I remember his lawyer, this was at his house, where he said he was going to go and give evidence. I asked, ‘Does he have to?’ The lawyer said, ‘No, he could argue that he won’t come.’ Madiba said, ‘No, no, we must respect the court, I must show an example.’

This ran through him, respecting the decisions of the court.

Frene Ginwala