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Understanding Our Constitutional Values

Ryland Fisher challenges delegates at a roundtable discussion about whether the Constitution, the founding document of our country’s democracy, is under threat.
Image: A few of the participants in the round table discussion Image: A few of the participants in the round table discussion

The Constitutional Court stands proudly on a hill overlooking the predominantly student hangout of Braamfontein on the one side, and the poverty of Hillbrow on the other side.

Years ago, this precinct housed notorious prisons for men and women, and today it houses the Constitutional Court, a place where the final decisions on all South Africa’s constitutional matters are decided.

The precinct is a stark reminder, physically, of our apartheid past, and in contrast, also our hope for a better future.

It is here, at Constitutional Hill, in the shadow of the Court, that we hosted a roundtable discussion to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption and implementation of South Africa’s Constitution, widely acknowledged to be one of the most progressive in the world.

We interrogated whether our Constitution was under threat and, if it was, what we as citizens could do to protect it. We looked back at a time before we had this Constitution and how this document represents the freedoms and equality our people collectively fought for.

It is, without a doubt, one of the few ways in which we can ensure our freedoms are never compromised again, and it is also one of a few ways we can hold our leadership to account.

Among the people at the roundtable were: Ebrahim Patel (Minister of Economic Development); Roelf Meyer (former National Party chief negotiator during the Codesa negotiations and former Minister of Constitutional Development); Dr Terence Nombembe (former Auditor General and now CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants); Advocate Anton Alberts (Member of Parliament for the Freedom Front Plus); Rudy Roberts (founder and CEO of Mega Water Corporation); Janet Love (national director of the Legal Resources Centre and commissioner at the Independent Electoral Commission); Bulelwa Mabasa (director at Werksman Attorneys); Nwabisa Tsengiwe Modiba (senior executive for marketing and public relations at SAICA); and Jeanny Morulane (general manager for marketing at Constitution Hill).

This group represented a mix of young and old, people who had been involved in negotiating the framework of our Constitution and people who are at the forefront of implementing and promoting it.

Click here to read the discussion.

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