Never stop the discussions

2012-03-17 09:29

South Africa, like all other leading democracies, reflects the grand compromises that make societies work.

The bargain between black South Africans and white South Africans.

The government’s role has always been to guard against passion of the moment.

However, responsibilities on both sides have always required us to cycle back to the start every so often.

White South Africans, irrespective of what they would like to tell themselves, can attribute their past errors, no doubt correctly, to the time and place they were raised.

Most of them may have been more vocal and institutionalised in resisting black freedom than they may come to admit today.

It is, however, when that peculiar mentality of living in grand comfort in the midst of grinding poverty, unmoved and resistant to the efforts of the government to redistribute the resources that the spirit of the compromise is lost.

After almost two decades of trying to close the gap between promise and practice, South Africans are at a crossroads of a contest between power and principle; where does the power lie, and where do principles stand?

To understand why South Africa must always improve the Constitution we must always revisit past promises and make judgments in subsequent events.

Again, taking a cue from the most advanced democracies, enough time has to be spent not only discussing sunset clauses but just what those clauses should be and whether they continue to be a reflection of where society is.

No law is ever truly final, there is always the opportunity to strengthen what appears done.

Most of the times the law is settled and plain as is the case with most of the constitution, but life turns up new problems or the desired results by a particular law are not realised.

What we must agree on is that what constitutes a near-perfect Constitution for the kind of society we are is no easy matter and deserves a serious debate.

We should never stop the discussions.

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