Any constitution is only as good as the politicians responsible for upholding it. Until recently, despite rotten apples in democracies across the globe, there were enough people with integrity in most countries to govern at an acceptable standard within the checks and balances of established constitutions and political conventions.

It has seldom been necessary for courts to step in where politicians disrespected their constitutions and political traditions. But suddenly over the past years a new breed of ruthless politician with no integrity or respect for the truth, and no sense of responsibility towards the people who voted them into power, have burst onto the scene.

The result is that the judicial pillars of societies have been forced to become involved to limit the abuse of power by politicians. In the US, there has been a battle for the past three years in the courts to rein in wayward politicians. The same is now happening in the UK. There is an awakening over a broad spectrum of society to end the free rein of unprincipled and ruthless politicians.

Civil society in the broadest sense of the word has always been activated when there has been unacceptable corruption and abuse of political power, to hold politicians accountable. I believe there is a changing mood within civil societies across the globe, specifically in democracies where there are increasing authoritarian tendencies.

SA once again set the example when civil society was mobilised and the courts acted to rein in former president Jacob Zuma and hold him to account.

Dawie Jacobs