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It's time to reflect on whether Constitution has 'served aspirations of our people' - Ramaphosa


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It's time to reflect on whether Constitution has 'served aspirations of our people' - Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

22nd March 2023

By: News24Wire


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President Cyril Ramaphosa believes that, 26 years since the Constitution came into effect, it is time to reflect on its efficiency and whether it has "served the aspirations of our people". 

Ramaphosa was delivering the keynote address on the first day of the three-day national conference on the Constitution titled "Reflections and the Road Ahead", said a lot of progress had been made in redressing the injustices of the past since the Constitution came into effect.


However, a lot more still needed to be done. 

"Despite numerous achievements, there are still many challenges in the realisation of the vision, values, and prescripts of our Constitution," he said.


"The persistently high levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality, corruption, and violence show that our journey to the promised land is far from over. 

"The contours of our racist and sexist past still feature in private and public institutions, in business, in access to skills, wealth, and opportunity, and in the spatial configuration of our cities, towns, and rural areas."

The Constitution was promulgated by then-president Nelson Mandela on 18 December 1996, and came into effect on 4 February 1997, replacing the Interim Constitution of 1993.

Ramaphosa suggested that there was a need to reflect on laws that had been passed "since the beginning of our post-revolutionary period".

Ramaphosa said there is a need to relook at the Constitution, with the aim of evaluating whether it served the citizens well or whether it had hindered steps toward addressing the injustices of the past. 

"Have the laws we have implemented since democracy actually achieved their purpose? Today we are focusing on our Constitution, and minister [of justice Ronald Lamola], if working together with Parliament, there should be an opportunity for us to look at various pieces of legislation that we have put in place to transform our country and see if we can retain them or make changes to them to attain the aspirations of our people," he said.

Ramaphosa described the inaugural conference on the Constitution as a "very rare opportunity" that should not be taken lightly. 

The conference's objective, according to Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, is to reflect on the achievements, current challenges, and to adopt resolutions for the future of a constitutional democracy. 

Ramaphosa said that through the provisions in the Constitution, the government had been able to serve its citizens. 

"Some of these measures include providing housing, water and sanitation, and social grants for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and children. There has been a distinct improvement in access to land, education, and healthcare services. 

"These are part of ongoing efforts to address economic and social injustices."

He added that the conference gave the government "an opportunity to reflect on the road we must traverse to strengthen our constitutional democracy and address the many challenges around the rule of law, accountability, and social and economic justice".

The president said, "The strengthening and entrenchment of constitutional democracy require ethical, committed, and effective leadership in all spheres of our society, political will, and the support of all our citizens."

Lamola echoed these sentiments, saying his department’s wish was for the conference to achieve "healing of divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice, and fundamental human rights".

"We also wish to lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law, improve the quality of life of all citizens and free each person's potential, and build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations," he said. 

Those in attendance included acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela


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