President Cyril Ramaphosa praises SA’s democratic constitution
On the anniversary of the apartheid state’s independence from the British Empire, President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the 25-year-old South African constitution.
In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa drew parallels between the apartheid state and the democratic state.
Last week parliament debated the 25-year anniversary of the democratic South African parliament. Ramaphosa was a key part of its drafting as he chaired the Constitutional Assembly.
“Today is the anniversary of an event in our history that most South Africans would rather not remember. Sixty years ago, on May 31 1961, apartheid South Africa become a republic, cutting its ties with the British Empire,” wrote Ramaphosa.
“But while a ‘republic’ is generally defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, this was not the case in SA.”
He said the unhappy anniversary was taking place in the same month the country celebrates the 25-year anniversary of the adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of the democratic constitution.
“Now we have one law for one nation. Together, we have chosen for ourselves a system of government that gives true meaning to the concept of a republic. We have said in our democratic republic, everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
“SA today is a country where the administration of justice is vested in independent courts and a judiciary that is subject only to the constitution. We live in a country where everyone has the right to approach the courts for the fulfilment of their rights,” said Ramaphosa.
He said in democratic SA, communities can stake a legal claim on land from which they were forcefully moved, and individuals and families are protected against arbitrary eviction from their homes.
“We live in a country where everyone is permitted to freely practise their culture and traditions. It is a country where anyone can freely protest in support of social, political and other causes anywhere.
“Our constitutional dispensation is premised on accountable government, where the executive is answerable to the people and where parliament is representative of the people.
“It is a country where the law applies equally to any citizen. We have a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We share a common responsibility, as both the state and citizens, to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the Bill of Rights.”