Debunking Zille: Open statement on Janet Love signed by Justice Kathy Satchwell, Andrew Feinstein and others


The open statement below corrects Premier Helen Zille who attacked Janet Love part-time commissioner at the Human Rights Commission. Shadow Minister of Justice supported the nomination of Janet Love to the South African Human Rights Commission on behalf of the Democratic Alliance.

Will Premier Helen Zille now attack Geoff Budlender, Paul Verryn, Justice Kathy Satchwell< Andrew Feinstein and Richard Moultrie as ANC cadres? Will Premier Zille apologise?

This post contains an open statement by individuals who know Janet Love and those who have worked with her as well as the Mail and Guardian report "No love lost for Janet".

See original post with Premier Zille’s attack here.
Zackie Achmat

Open statement on Janet Love

As constitutional lawyers, legal academics, human rights and social justice activists who have worked with Janet Love while she has been the National Director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), we are surprised and dismayed by Premier Helen Zille’s implication that she will not act independently of narrow party politics in her capacity as a human rights commissioner.

During the last five years, Janet Love has been the National Director of the LRC. In the face of a gradual decrease of grant funding for human rights work, she has fought to secure its survival. Despite competition from the private sector and the LRC’s inability to pay competitive salaries, she has succeeded in attracting talented lawyers to continue the LRC’s long tradition of human rights litigation and advocacy.

Under the leadership of Janet Love, the LRC has fought fearlessly for the rights of the poor and powerless, without favour to the ANC or any other political party. During this period, the LRC has for example undertaken the following litigation and advocacy:

  • The Nyathi case, in which the National Government was challenged for its failure to satisfy court orders made against it, prompting censure from the Constitutional Court;
  • Numerous successful challenges to the maladministration of the social grants system, particularly in the Eastern Cape;
  • The successful challenge to the constitutionality of the Community Land Rights Act;
  • Advocating against the Traditional Courts Bill;
  • Opposing the threatened eviction of the residents of Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town;
  • Representing Paul Verryn and the Methodist Church refugees in the face of unrelenting pressure from the City of Johannesburg authorities and the South African Police Services;
  • Challenging the government’s policies in relation to the provision of free basic water;
  • Representing Earthlife Africa in its fight to ensure that the PBMR project complied with basic administrative and environmental law principles;
  • Challenging the ‘political pardons’ process being undertaken by the President; and
  • Challenging the prosecutions policy of the National Prosecuting Authority on the basis that it unconstitutionally undermined the independence of the NPA from the National Executive.

That record speaks for itself. It shows that Janet Love has not hesitated to promote human rights by litigating against and criticising government at all levels, whichever party is in power.

We are therefore concerned that Ms Zille has criticised the SA Human Rights Commission in a manner which does a grave injustice to someone who has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to human rights in South Africa. In the process, she has also undermined the LRC, which is one of South Africa’s oldest and most widely respected human rights organisations.

Signatories

  1. Adv Geoff Budlender SC
  2. Adv Richard Moultrie
  3. Fatima Hassan
  4. Zackie Achmat
  5. Gavin Silber
  6. Adv Wim Trengove SC
  7. Andrew Feinstein
  8. Professor Halton Cheadle
  9. Bishop Paul Verryn
  10. Gerald Kraak
  11. Professor Jonathan Klaaren
  12. Professor Hugh Corder
  13. Professor Pierre de Vos
  14. Adv Nasreen Rajab-Budlender
  15. Asha Ramgobin
  16. Jacob van Garderen
  17. Adv Steven Budlender
  18. Adv Stuart Wilson
  19. Dr Jackie Dugard
  20. Judge Kathie Satchwell
  21. Dr Rachel Wynberg
  22. Doron Isaacs
  23. Nathan Geffen
  24. Audrey Elster
  25. Lindiwe Tukani
  26. Judith February
  27. Professor Richard Calland
  28. Zubeida Jaffer
  29. Rose Williams
  30. Reynaud Daniels
  31. Ashraf Mahomed
  32. Advocate Adila Hassim

Download a PDF of the statement.

No love lost for Janet — Lynne Donnelly Mail and Guardian 22 October 2010

Constitutional lawyers, legal academics and human rights and social justice activists have come out in defence of Janet Love’s appointment to the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC), after repeated attacks on the decision by Western Cape Premier and Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille.

Zille renewed her attack on Love, a former ANC national executive committee member and director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), in her online letter, SA Today, earlier this month.

However, the Mail & Guardian has confirmed that in spite of Zille’s objections, the DA supported Love’s appointment to the HRC in Parliament last year.

In an interview with the M&G Zille stuck to her guns, arguing that her criticism stemmed from concerns that Love’s appointment went to the heart of ANC cadre deployment across key institutions in South Africa.

Her repeated attacks, including a right to reply in the M&G, have prompted an open letter in Love’s defence signed by advocate Geoff Budlender, HIV/Aids activist Zackie Achmat, Idasa head Judith February and Bishop Paul Verryn, among others.

“We are surprised and dismayed by Premier Helen Zille’s implication that [Love] will not act independently of narrow party politics in her capacity as a human rights commissioner,” the letter says.

“Under the leadership of Janet Love, the LRC has fought fearlessly for the rights of the poor and powerless, without favour to the ANC or any other political party.”

Criticising Love’s appointment in SA Today earlier this month, Zille quoted ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe saying at the party’s recent national general council that Love had resigned from the NEC, with police commissioner Bheki Cele, as a result of their “deployment to strategic state departments and institutions”.

The DA’s support for Love’s appointment in Parliament last year was confirmed by Dene Smuts, the DA’s shadow minister of justice and constitutional development and a member of Parliament’s justice committee, which interviewed candidates.

Asked why he had signed the letter, Budlender told the M&G that criticism of Love implied that she would not be independent or committed to the cause of human rights.

“This criticism is simply not justified,” he said.

The letter listed a host of cases that Love had worked on during her time at the LRC, including the case of Dingaan Nyathi, who was left paralysed as a result of medical negligence at a state hospital, in which the national government was challenged about its failure to satisfy court orders made against it, prompting censure from the Constitutional Court.

Other examples of her independence of mind while at the LRC included numerous successful challenges to the maladministration of the social grants system, particularly in the Eastern Cape; challenging the “political pardons” process undertaken by President Jacob Zuma; and challenging the prosecutions policy of the National Prosecuting Authority on the basis that it undermined the independence of the NPA from the national executive.

Zille was adamant, that her criticism was not a personal attack on Love. “The issue is not about Janet Love,” Zille said. “It is about the ANC’s deployment of cadres to institutions that were established by the Constitution to be independent and limit abuse of power.”

She said Mantashe had admitted that Love was deployed to the HRC because it is “a strategic state department and institution”.

“As an ANC deployee, Love is duty-bound to promote the ANC’s interests at the Human Rights Commission. If she defies her party, she will be redeployed, just as Vusi Pikoli was.”

ENDS

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