Title: ANC: Phosa: Address by the African National Congress treasurer general, at the 2012 national congress of National Woolgrowers’ Association of SA
Our Constitution is one that is globally recognized as a brilliant and
liberal one, ensuring the rights of all.
It works from the basis that South Africa belongs to all who live in it,
as per the ANC’s 1955 Freedom Charter declaration.
In it, we are assured equality before the law, basic human rights,
freedom of association, and the right of certain services provided by
More than anything else, it ensures, through these rights, that everyone
has the right to make the living of their choice within the ambit of
That right is embedded for farmers, small entrepreneurs and South African
companies who trade globally.
Government is tasked by the Constitution, to provide the legal,
regulatory and financial environment to ensure that everyone has an
opportunity to profit from their efforts.
No Constitution is absolute, ours has been amended repeatedly, where we
have realized, or the courts have pointed out, that it is lacking in
clarity, scope or detail.
The point of departure is a simple one: Do not tamper with the
Constitution unless it is absolutely necessary, and do not do so for
narrow or political interests.
We should not, however, shy away from debates as it pertains to the
validity and solidity of the Constitution.
It was drafted by humans, and it is human to err.
As you know there are currently debates raging in this context as it
pertains to the judiciary, to the media, to freedom of artistic
expression, secrecy, and various other social and legal issues facing us
on a day to day basis.
I will defend the rights to have these debates as it deepens our
constitutional freedom, as well as protects the robustness and
transparency of public discourse.
I will also defend your right to differ from me, as that also ensures
that we do not, over time, erode the freedom to differ (from one another)
that we struggled for, for many years.
I am deeply concerned, however, that as these debates define their own
priority in the public mind, we run the danger of taking our eye off of
critical post-liberation priorities.
Robust and tough public debates are good and necessary, but we have a
country to govern, and some of these debates contribute little to service
delivery, social cohesion and a practical vision of how we want to define
Personally I would want to see more debates about the further improvement
of our education and health services, better delivery at local level, and
practical implementation of the Mandela vision for nation-building.
We sometimes get carried away with debates that seem critical to our
survival in the moment, but in time fades away to distant and
As politicians, and as farmers, we need to lift our eyes and seek out
those issues that have the potential to change our lives for the good,
and create a better life for all.
I thank you for your practical contribution to the agricultural sector
and our economy in general, but to job creation and economic growth