The Presidential Years

I am often asked why democracy works in this unpromising environment, and I have a very personal response to that. One of the major factors, if not the principal one, is the Mandela factor – his attitude to the separation of powers and the rule of law was unflinching and unshakable.

This was exemplified when the Constitutional Court ruled against the President with regard to the Local Government Transition Act, probably the most troublesome of all aspects of the transition given the challenge of uniting segregated living spaces. The court delivered its judgment at 9:45 a.m. By 11 o’clock Mandela was on radio to brief the country. He said, ‘If I were to say I was happy with this result it would not be true – but the law is what the courts say, and that is what we must do’. His attitude was, ‘We will play hard, but by the rules of the game’.

Judge Johann Kriegler