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Thuli Madonsela speaks on anniversary of Constitution

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 10, 2021


Johannesburg - Former public protector Thuli Madonsela says the inequality in South Africa has mirrored the inequalities of apartheid.

She was speaking to a television broadcaster as the country celebrated the 25th anniversary of the South African Constitution on Friday.

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On 10 December 1996 then president Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution into law in Sharpeville, Gauteng. The signed Constitution came into operation on February 4, 1997.

Since its signing 17 amendments have been made.

“The Constitution of South Africa is celebrated because it covers all bases. It is a clear vision of the society we are intending to go which has four goals, democratic values, social justice, fundamental human rights its very clear what are the entitlement of every human being, and those are in chapter 2 in the Bill of Rights,” said Madonsela.

She said it includes basic rights such as the right to dignity, quality, access to food, water, social security, education and health.

“It is very clear what government we need, a government based on ethics which shows that it is wrong when people say as long as you have not been convicted in the criminal court you can govern because that's unconstitutional. The constitution wants you to be ethical,” said Madonsela.

She said it also provides for a polycentric accountability system that includes courts, Parliament, the people, the media and Chapter 9 institutions.

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Madonsela said the effectiveness of the Constitution can only be reflected in how the average person experiences the fruits of the Constitution in everyday justice, basic things like access to water, health services, freedom from violence including gender based violence, equality in all aspects of life not just the workplaces, equality and ownership of land, businesses and equality in ownership of companies and intellectual property.

“As we stand here, the inequality we have in our society mirror the inequalities of apartheid because the power that people have under the law to be treated as superior has become the social in economic power they have to be superior to those who were undermined during the apartheid,” Madonsela said.

She said at Stellenbosch University they believe “you can’t get where you are supposed to go if you don’t have a vision”.

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“The average person, even those who work for the government, does not know what the constitutional values are. We even have a government document that said the local government has more responsibility to advance equality and that was shocking but it says to us we need to embark on constitutional literacy,” Madonsela.

Madonsela said she thinks that South Africa’s Constitution should have been drafted in the same way as the Kenyan constitution because there would be no disagreement about… “Is equality a duty, do government departments and entities only have a responsibility not to discriminate or do they have a responsibility to proactively advance equality? The Kenyan constitution is very clear on that”.

Madonsela further said: “With our Constitution you have to read it together with decisions of the constitutional court and that’s what we do when we embark on constitutional literacy.”

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Political Bureau