SA government must answer tough questions- Robinson
Sunday 5 August 2012 17:01
Former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson.
International Human Rights heavyweight Mary Robinson posed some tough questions to the South African government today.
The former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for human rights delivered the 10th annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Cape Town.
She expressed grave concern about the erosion of the ANC's moral authority, corruption, poverty, and high levels of illiteracy.
The August 5, marks the 50th anniversary of Madiba's arrest in 1962 and Robinson, who is also a member of the Mandela's Elders group of internationals leaders working for peace, spoke of her personal connection with South Africa.
"Next to my native country Ireland, this is the country I have most grown to love, for it's historic victory over the evil of apartheid, and it's promise of a rainbow nation," she said.
Robinson urged that government answer hard-hitting questions to ensure the sustainability of democracy
She however questioned the whether South Africa is living up to those high expectations and singled out the controversial Protection of State Information Bill.
"From my experience as a Human Rights lawyer, I can give you a certainty, if you enact a law that cloaks the workings of state actors, that interferes with press freedom to investigate corruption, that stifles efforts by whistelblowers to expose corruption, you are sure to increase those levels of corruption tomorrow," said Robinson.
She also expressed sadness for what she called the erosion of the ANC's moral authority, and a temporary betrayal of it's history. She was concerned the party is tainted by allegations of corruption. She warned much needs to be done.
"There remains in the transformation process, much unfinished business. We cannot deny South Africa faces serious problems. I read about them in the newspapers, I hear about them from my South African friends, and I see evidence of them with my own eyes."
Robinson questioned the high levels of crime and the under-performing education system. However, she acknowledged that problems and inequalities could not be corrected in just 18 years.
The former Irish President urged that government answer hard-hitting questions to ensure the sustainability of democracy.