The values and principles that underpinned the people’s struggle for freedom and human rights remain relevant and inform the agenda to achieve a truly democratic order. As we finalised the new Constitution and our Constitutional Court played its part in confirming its correctness, it was a list of 34 Constitutional Principles against which the text from the Constitutional Assembly (“CA”) was checked.
The Constitutional Principles – in those days of the Interim Constitution – were attached as one of the very important schedules to the Constitution. It encapsulated the values we had agreed to as binding. It was on that basis that a provision relating to the local sphere of government was sent back by the Constitutional Court. The CA had to relook at it and strengthen it before the final adoption of the text. The Constitutional Principles were that important, they gave life to the peoples aspirations that had been the set of values shared by all freedom loving people.
More than two and half decades later after the actual implementation of our world renowned Constitution, it is a good time to go back to a space in which we did excel as South Africans. Talking, listening, hearing, learning, discovering and getting wiser. Some questions must be engaged honestly and issues carefully examined in order not to gloss over important matters we might have neglected, whatever the reasons for that were.
1. The Constitutional Principles are a convenient agenda for an honest basis on which to cast a rigorous eye at aspects of our dispensation. Have we done well in what was supposed to be achieved? So that’s the purpose of the exercise.
2. High on the hierarchy of why we focus a shining light is in order to engage the big question: Are we happy that as we meant to guide us in Principle VI – the fundamentals of our democracy have been achieved?
3. Are there any other ways in which we can pursue some matters that can help in the strengthening of our democracy? The High Level Panel report raises some issues which can be part of the ongoing Conversations to improve the democracy we fought for. Let the conversations begin beyond the formal forums for us ALL.
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