n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - The defect of the constitution : concurrent powers are not co-operative or competitive powers

Volume 2010, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0257-7747
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2207



If asked to evaluate the success or failure of a certain arrangement in another country's democratic constitution, the question one should turn to in the first place is certainly not whether this arrangement is in compliance with the constitution and legal system one may be accustomed to. Much rather, the question in the well-tested British approach to the evaluation of constitutional concepts and institutions should be whether this other system works. Only if that cannot be answered in the affirmative, the need arises to rethink the foundations of the arrangement in this other constitution, and this would seem to apply even if one would have to come to the conclusion that those foundations are inconsistent with or do not otherwise meet the demands of legal and/or theoretical logics. If and as long as the arrangement fulfils its function, such inconsistencies or other defects would thus have to be left aside as irrelevant.

In the field of the constitutional distribution of powers this applies all the more as one has to be aware of the fact that the framers of the South African constitution deliberately intended to introduce a unique South African concept of concurrent powers. So, the paramount question in this context would appear to be whether the South African concept of concurrent legislative competencies works in practice or not.
First, it is necessary to provide a brief summary of the arrangement. The constitution provides for a constitutionally-entrenched distribution of powers between the national and provincial governments, and appoints the constitutional court to enforce the arrangement. Each province, which may adopt its own provincial constitution not inconsistent with the national constitution, has exclusive powers in respect of a limited list of functional areas, whereas the national and provincial governments share powers in respect of a more extensive list of concurrent matters. In case of conflict between national and provincial legislation on a concurrent matter, the national legislation prevails if it complies with any of several conditions. The threshold to be met is fairly low and not dissimilar to that found in federal systems.

In die beoordeling van die sukses al dan nie van 'n bepaalde reëling in 'n ander land se demokratiese grondwet is die gepaste benadering om eerstens vas te stel of daardie ander stelsel werk. Slegs indien die antwoord negatief is, ontstaan die behoefte om weer te dink oor die basis van die reëlings in die ander grondwet. Hierdie benadering is ook gevolg in hierdie beoordeling van die spesifieke bepalings oor konkurrente magte in die Suid-Afrikaanse grondwet.
Die konstruksie van konkurrensie in die grondwet gee gelyke wetgewende magte aan die parlement en die provinsies oor die lys van konkurrente sake. Die -situasie verskil egter dramaties van die -posisie en van die gedeelde verantwoordelikheid oor konkurrente sake het weinig gekom. Inteendeel, daar is 'n duidelike tendens tot sentralisasie met die parlement wat die rol van primêre wetgewer oor hierdie sake aanvaar het en met weinig provinsiale wetgewing oor konkurrente sake. 'n Aantal faktore het tot hierdie -posisie bygedra, onder andere die manipulering van die beginsel van samewerkende regering om nasionale beheer te bevorder in plaas van om 'n ware samewerkende verhouding tussen die nasionale en provinsiale regerings te ondersteun. Die gevolgtrekking is dat konkurrensie soos toegepas in Suid-Afrika nie gewerk het nie. Die vraag is dan of die teoretiese raamwerk van konkurrensie in die grondwet geldig is.
Uit die ervaring van gevestigde federale stelsels is dit duidelik dat konkurrente magte nie samewerkende of oorvleuelende magte is nie, maar dat daar duidelike grondwetlike bepalings oor die verdeling van "konkurrente wetgewende magte" moet wees, insluitende die opeis van wetgewende magte deur die nie-besitter van die residuele wetgewende magte. Trouens, die begrip "konkurrente magte" is eintlik misleidend en die wese daarvan dui eerder op die toekenning van "prioriteitsmagte". Suid-Afrika se teoretiese raamwerk van konkurrensie voldoen nie aan hierdie model nie en gepaste wysigings aan die grondwet word voorgestel. Die voorstel berus op 'n bevestiging dat die residuele wetgewende bevoegdheid by die nasionale sfeer rus en dat daar 'n proses van opeis en oordrag van konkurrente wetgewende magte aan provinsies sal wees.

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