Mandates: Statist power grab undermines personal autonomy as well as collective rights

A STATIST POWER-GRAB is on the boil. Government control of your entire life from cradle to grave is what many political pundits have in mind. Whether it is the far-left who are pursuing the end of private property ownership in order to make the state the ‘custodian of all property’, or misguided intellectuals on the right promoting vaccine mandates and grumbling meekly about the price of petrol at the pump and ignoring state-controlled fuel levies, the result is all the same.

Erosion of the fundamental, egalitarian and openly democratic principles, granted everyone in South Africa. Obliteration of personal freedom and evisceration of the core values enshrined by our constitution as a foundation stone, in what is an emancipatory charter of our Republic, has been a trend for nearly a decade.

In the rewrite of the constitutional narrative to favour personal agendas and party fortunes, (think of Gwede Mantashe and his resort to pro-fossil fuel rhetoric), an agenda is clear — the blatant capture and reshaping of our political system to allow for the wholesale reshaping and reorganisation of the national character in the image of other totalitarian dictatorships around the world, think of China, Cuba, and North Korea.

Thus Omphemetse S Sibanda writes: “It is highly problematic when individuals care for themselves and their immediate families only and do not care about the wellbeing of the entire community in which they live during the pandemic”, and by that he means the state: “If people don’t care, the state must help them to care or to grow a caring bone.” [my italics]

A community no doubt comprised of party loyalists, sycophants and acolytes?

It was my namesake CS Lewis who wrote: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their conscience.”

The same may be said of those who lack any conscience in the ANC, and by illustration Deputy health minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo who believes “the rights of individuals not to get vaccinated for Covid-19 will be trumped by the rights of a collective who choose vaccination.”

“A collective right becomes superior to an individual right,” he claims. “We will not deny you to stay at home if you so wish but you can’t force yourself into a taxi of 10 other people who are vaccinated if you refuse to vaccinate but you want to travel with them to work.”

By which one can only presume, that the collective rights and authority to vaccinate, referred to here are whatever the party determines to be the prevailing authority and not some high-minded ideal, based upon any democratic conception of our national character. Ditto patient rights.

Freedom is not a bone you throw to a dog

It is thus that Ben Winks, a highly acclaimed legal advocate on the far-right (of winklehood), and many years my junior, and certainly too young to experience forced medical interventions under apartheid, who incorrectly and without any evidence suggests: “Does the Constitution allow compulsory vaccination? Yes: it commands it”.

Well, how incredibly patronising of these three men, (and yes one should also question why so many male voices on the subject?)

Do Sibanda, Dhlomo and Winks, et. al. seriously presume to suggest they know what is best for my family, and further, foolishly assume, they have some right in law to inject my family against their will, in violation of Article 12 (which has its corollary in article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), as if I do not possess free will nor any volition and am simply a ward of the state? And whatever happened to Article 13, freedom from slavery?

For the record I am not disabled, have been jabbed twice by Pfizer, but hereby lodge my objections to any coercion and removal of choice — brazen attempts to unlawfully usurp my freedom and that of my family under the ruse of collectivism and simple majoritarianism. Just about nobody is suggesting that infected persons should be free to infect others, but rather to use an analogy, there is no rationale behind forcing everyone to take ARVs merely to avoid HIV.

A civic duty is no longer a duty when it is a compulsion. A person is no longer a free individual if they are slaves to the collective will, or require another’s permission to do what is considered natural. To reiterate, mandates are ordinarily granted during elections, and constitutional mandates arise from a defence of the constitution, not a shoddy, legalistic attempt, nor a quasi political project, to rewrite and interpolate its contents.

We are not your willing slaves

All pro-mandate opinion pieces published in the public arena to date represent a dangerous resort to authoritarianism and statism, in which it is argued inter alia, the state should treat individuals as children, or worse, mere tools, in effect a sad resort to the ancient doctrine of patria potestas, or the state ‘acting as parent’, apparently in order to defend the ‘collective will of the people’.

While the rights of the person certainly need to be weighed against the rights of the collective, the issue begs the question, who are we as a nation, what is the collective will, and who claims to represent it? Our freedom is not reducible to some fratboy law school formula, (one part individual to three parts party agenda divided by collective power). Freedom includes freedom from, as in freedom from war, coercion and fear, without which there could be no democracy.

This is exactly why these proposed mandates deserve a referendum (if not a constitutional amendment) since the result represents a major shift in the democratic, antislavery narrative of the country. Switzerland recently held a referendum on the issue of limited vaccine mandates. The UK’s Sajid Javid has declared “Mandatory Covid vaccines ‘unethical’ and ‘impractical’. Our democracy could do better than to attempt to crowd out those voicing objections.

And what if we all voted for totalitarianism, servitude and the end of democracy, what then?

If one perceives that the collective will is enshrined in the constitution and not any one particular organisation nor individual, then it should follow that article 12 (Freedom and security of the person) be read with the same circumspection and deference as article 11 (Right to life) and article 13, (Freedom from Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour).

There is a good reason why these non-derogable rights, appear right next door to each other, while our health rights are littered throughout the constitution, appearing several times under Health Care, Environment and so on.

A non-derogable right is not subject to retroactive legislation during a state of emergency and cannot simply be curtailed holus bolus via an act of parliament.

Reintroducing the death penalty would probably protect the collective from harm, but be a violation of the values referred to in the preamble. Adopting Nazism as an ideology would most likely get the trains running on time, at least for the majority of us, whilst ending multi-party democracy might result in greater efficiency, and less taxation for everyone, as would a communist dictatorship.

I am not going to repeat my previous piece on patria potestas, but you can read it here. And I also suggest you read my initial response to that other looney toon of the left, posing as a legal pundit in the media, Pierre de Vos.

There is also this piece: ‘When the pandemic ends, those unlawful mandates are going to haunt us”, one of several similar pieces published here, which might elucidate the issue.

SEE: It looks like Omicron variant causes milder illness – is this how Covid-19 becomes endemic?

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