Transformation duty of state, not Constitution - Moseneke

2016-12-08 06:08

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Cape Town - The Constitution was never meant to be an action plan for transformation and equalising society remains the duty of the state, said former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke on Wednesday.

Moseneke was speaking in the final session of a symposium at the University of Cape Town honouring his life and work.

High Court Judge Dennis Davis had asked Moseneke whether the Constitution and courts have done enough to promote transformation in society.

Moseneke held firm that while the Constitution has its limits, it was never meant to stipulate how society must be transformed.

"Today many young people think that our struggle is linear. They think the Constitution is a sell-out and they think 1994 was a bad bargain. They have hard questions to ask about the transition in 1994. But the bottom line is that if there was any worth about 1994, that worth has been lost by failure to follow on and transform society," he explained.

"Young people collapse two things. The political transition was never meant to be a full out social transition. It was never meant to be a pact that would set out how we were going to equalise society. There was no hard-nosed discussion about how we were going to equalise the means of production. The Constitution does not get there. It sets out the hope that this should be done, but there's no agreement about how you truly transform society."

Role of personal agency

He was critical of the lack of funding for higher education and government's management of the fee crisis at universities.

"The state could've done much more. It could've given us high quality education. It could've reprioritised the budget and shown more budgetary and fiscal prudence to change society. 1994 created a platform in which an effective state could have affected better change.

"You can't talk up a deficit in higher education funding by calling on parents to pay more every year. That model is not sustainable. Remember your duty in section 10(1) of the Constitution. Increasing fees every year cannot translate to progressive access to higher education. In that sense we're in breach of the Constitution."

Moseneke recently published his autobiography, My Own Liberator.

"In many ways the book talks about the role and the space of personal agency; the duty that we all bear and carry to do something about our circumstances and liberate ourselves. It's a duty many young people and political leaders outsource. They try to escape from personal agency. But we must do the hard work. We are entitled to nothing," Moseneke said.

"Out of our personal agency flows collective agency and only collectively do we become our own liberators."

Read more on:    dikgang moseneke  |  feesmustfall

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