Chief Albert Luthuli Annual Memorial Lecture – 2016

2016-11-23 06:00

THE year 2016 marks three important anniversaries in the life of a democratic South Africa.
These are the 40th anniversary of the 1976 June 16 Uprising; the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Building and 20th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The three anniversaries come at a time when South Africa, like the rest of the world, is confronted by three key challenges that were heralded by the 2008 global economic downturn and aggravated by the worsening drought the country has ever experienced since 1904.
The challenges include the widening gap between the rich and poor; widespread poverty and acute levels of unemployment which have a negative impact especially on the poor and the most vulnerable section of our society such as women and children. Almost everywhere in the world, you have people challenging the status quo with respect to the growing disparities and agitating for a better world - a new deal.

The 2016 Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture affords us all an opportunity to reflect on the relevance of the much lauded South African Constitution in addressing the challenges that confront our society and explore possible ways through which we can entrench democracy; social cohesion and nation building and in so doing achieve a South Africa envisioned by the likes of Chief Albert Luthuli and many others. The lecture will, therefore, aim to raise a number of questions that will require special attention and answers. The questions are not exhaustive, but seemingly have pertinence in the process of deepening our society’s understanding and appreciation of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

How have we fared as a country in terms of nation building and social cohesion? To what an extent does the Constitution make practical the betterment of the lives of the majority of South Africans? How do we get a nation to understand and internalise the Constitution to a point that they believe in it and it becomes part of their everyday life experience?

As a developmental state, is the Constitution better placed to address the country’s widening social inequalities and thus ensure a fair distribution of economic power? Lastly, to what an extent does the Constitution give credence to President Mandela’s 25 May 1994 ‘Never Again’ speech at the opening of the South African Parliament in Cape Town?

The lecture will take place on Saturday, 26 November 2016 from 1pm to 5pm at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus.

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