Our Constitution is working, but it is not working all the time. Does this mean we have a Constitutional Crisis? Most don’t think so. Democracy Development Program hosted a dialogue to celebrate 20 years of our Constitution, to which this question was explored “How do we as citizens reclaim our rights and responsibilities to make our constitution a living document?”
Facilitated by DDPs Director Dr Rama Naidu and chaired by Sthembiso Madlala and Brian Bhengu the audience had an opportunity to engage on various aspects of the Constitution following presentations by Bhengu and Madlala.
In these engagements what became clear is the fact that a large number of youth which were in attendance believe that they are “ready to lead and have the ideas necessary to run the country” as they believe that the older generation in government has failed in upholding the Constitution through corruption as a result failing the country and its citizens.
The elders in the room highlighted the mood of anger that is in the country right now given the current atmosphere in the political arena, and cautioned about saying that we have a working Constitution based on Constitutional Court rulings.
They believe that if the Constitution was working then matters that are unconstitutional wouldn’t have to be taken to the Constitutional Court before those implicated find the courage to admit their wrongs, further they emphasised that the Constitution isn’t working for those who protest for non-existent everyday services in their municipalities and certainly not for the workers of Marikana who were shot down.
Years into our democracy we cannot deny that South Africa has one of the best Constitutions in the world, but the implementation of this document still has major challenges which impact heavily on the poor and uninformed. It is however, not a signal of a Constitutional crisis, as Sthembiso Madlala noted that we have no crisis but “people who deliberately or out ignorance misinterpret the Constitution”.
In celebrating 20 years of our Constitution, DDP said “Citizens need to rise and take power to them”, through reading and understanding the Constitution and laws that govern them.