When the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written by the architects of our republic, they were signing a promissory note to which every South African was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all South Africans would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In our constitutional democracy, the constitution is supreme.
One must be is mindful of the dictum that the constitution is only a piece of paper. It only gains force when the people rise up in defense when it comes under attack.
The preamble of our constitution states that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
The South African Constitution has been called one of the best in the world, but my experience sees it differently, everyone has rights on paper but not everyone has the rights in practice.
It amazes me that otherwise highly reasonable commentators continually misinterpret the Constitution by asserting that this land “belongs to all those who live in it” when we all know that pieces of land in the country belong to those who have title deeds and such ownership is archived in the deeds register. Even foreigners make that list of owners of the land that is South Africa.
The Constitution therefore fools the poor people with a mirage of equality and lets them feed on a feel good euphoria far removed from the reality of their daily lives.
The punted equality in the new South Africa is as much a red herring as non racialism, apparently at the top of the country’s agenda yet with no concerted effort to make up the development of Africans that has been stunted for more than three hundred years.
Experience and practice over the past 20 years of democracy has however demonstrated that there are many among our fellow citizens inside and outside of government who have a different understanding of what a constitutional democracy means.
Until we become genuinely ashamed to see fellow people living in circumstances that are not fit for humans, nothing will come right.