JUROL Bulletin – IS ESKOM’S CONDUCT CONSISTENT WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA – READ AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
Title: Constitutional Concerns in Disconnection Dispute Expose Conflict Between Statute and Bill of Rights
Date: August 25, 2023
Location: JUROL Headquarters, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
In a groundbreaking development, the Justice Under Rule of Law (JUROL) initiative sheds light on an ongoing dispute between Arnoldino Media (Pty) Ltd (Arnoldino) and Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider. The dispute brings into focus the intricate balance between statutory authority and constitutional rights, revealing potential conflicts and implications for the rule of law.
Disconnection Decision and Notice to Remove Equipment
At the heart of the matter is Eskom’s decision to disconnect electricity services to Arnoldino, citing an alleged arrears amount. In response, Arnoldino, a member of the Africa Heritage Society’s JUSTICE UNDER ROLE OF LAW (JUROL), raised concerns over the validity and legality of the arrears amount and the subsequent disconnection decision. In a letter to Eskom, Arnoldino’s representative, Mutumwa Mawere, emphasized the fundamental importance of upholding constitutional principles and the rule of law in all actions undertaken by state entities.
Conflict Between Statute and Bill of Rights
The dispute highlights a critical conflict between statutory authority exercised by Eskom and the constitutional rights enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa. The decision to disconnect electricity services and the subsequent notice to remove equipment have raised questions about the potential violation of constitutional principles. Arnoldino argues that the disconnection was based on disputed arrears’ amount whose validity and legality have yet to be independently examined. The notice to remove equipment introduces a self-help approach that brings significant constitutional concerns to the forefront.
Implications and Precedent
The dispute has far-reaching implications, particularly concerning the potential impunity for state entities in exercising statutory power without thorough consideration of constitutional implications. This raises concerns about whether statutory decisions can be made in disregard of constitutional rights. The dispute underscores the need for an independent and impartial tribunal to assess the constitutionality of such decisions.
JUROL’s Stance on Constitutional Supremacy
JUROL advocates for the supremacy of the Constitution as the foundational and binding law applicable to all actions, including those taken by state entities. Advocate Pillay, a prominent voice within JUROL, emphasizes that the Constitution must prevail over statutory authority and guide the actions of state entities.
Broader Significance and Future
Legal experts, human rights organizations, and observers of the South African legal landscape are closely monitoring the developments of this case. The outcome could set a precedent in the balance between statutory authority and constitutional rights, shaping the future interactions between state entities and individuals or entities they serve.
Upholding Justice and Constitutional Values
As the dispute unfolds, the core principles of justice, fairness, and constitutional supremacy remain paramount. The dispute serves as a reminder that even in the exercise of statutory authority, the principles enshrined in the Constitution must be upheld and respected.
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