Johannesburg – Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, says government and society must remain unapologetic in the pursuance and protection of the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
The Minister was addressing a webinar observing the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution into law by former President Nelson Mandela.
“If these [ideals] are not followed by concerted actions by all of us, our best intentions remain hollow. In the same way, our constitution remains hollow to survivors of gender-based violence. In the same way, our constitution remains hollow to those who idle in poverty and unemployment.
“The Constitution has to be a catalyst for equality under these circumstances. Socio-economic rights must become a reality. In this vein, we need to be unapologetic in pursuing the goals which the Constitution has set us,” he said.
Lamola highlighted that over the past 27 years, laws have been passed in an effort to realise the goals set out in the Constitution and to better the lives of those living in the country.
“We have created new institutions and in some instances, we have given them even more powers informed by the learnings of our journey as we continue to reform the state.
“[There are some]…bills we are finalizing and producing to address systemic inequalities and unfair discrimination. We have put in place legislation directed at advancing human rights. In recent times, pieces of legislation have featured heavily in our courts with the intention to hold those with executive powers accountable for their decisions and also holding individuals accountable for various forms of discrimination,” the Minister said.
Lamola added that the Constitution has allowed for positive progress in the lives of South Africans and cultivated a culture of observance of human rights.
“[Our] Constitution can be a document that binds us together towards a better life for all. For our nation to prevail, we dare not lose our robust human rights culture which has grown from strength to strength in the past 25 years.
“This human rights culture must be even more prominent now by all role players in society in a period where COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on people’s livelihoods and more broadly the economy. The worlds’ richest nations continue to be on the wrong side of equality through unjust hoarding of vaccines,” he said.
The Minister encouraged all those living in South Africa to actively protect the Constitution and the country’s democracy.
“Our biggest threat to our democracy and its institutions is not only the politicians and big private companies amongst us who seek to override its foundations, but also citizens who chose to withdraw their participation. Our constitution is a living document and it lives with us. We have the responsibility to keep it alive…let us pledge to keep it alive in all facets of society.”
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