Disposition not written in stone

2010-04-11 13:42

By Meshack Mabogoane

THE recent comments made by Max du Preez and Ferial Haffajee on the Constitution in City Press cannot be left ­unanswered lest the poverty of thought, evasion of issues or dangerous bias, which they ­express, spread and society gets caught up in the resulting quagmire.

The country is undergoing serious crises that require ­honest and genuine debates with meaningful resolutions.

Du Preez tries to buttress his song by being cynical to the point of rendering discussions on the Constitution ridiculous.

Du Preez calls this Constitution “the best” and ­Haffajee ­labels it “a grand founding ­document” like many ­apologists or beneficiaries. Both have the right to ­express their views but are obliged to acknowledge there are other perspectives which must be ­expressed in the same media.

There is plenty of evidence that much of the country’s ­social and moral degeneration is due to this highly licentious Constitution. There are large numbers of people who are ­perturbed by provisions in the Constitution, which allows for same-sex marriages, school moms on campuses or lenient treatment of criminals.

These are legitimate concerns that cannot be scoffed at.

Also, much of the political difficulties and problems now facing the country have their roots in this Constitution. It has given excessive and ­exclusive power to parties at the ­expense of the people.

In this way the Constitution ensures that it is not someone’s character or qualifications that are relevant but a person’s association with the party.

Given sheer ­historical ­inertia, control of government and propaganda, the ANC will continue to ­dominate and whoever rides in the party will get what they want.

The media and others have pointed out this phenomenon yet a Constitution that makes these glaring faults possible is regarded as the “best” or “grand”.

Direct participation is the best test of democracy as the dictum “the people shall ­govern” implies. This is patently not so in South Africa where only parties reign supreme.

If a tree is known by its fruits this Constitution has harvested the bitterness of social ­degeneration and is a mockery of representative government.

It is also no defence to say that a Constitution is fine but it is those who are handling it who are at fault or who “frustrate the dream” it contains, as Haffajee states.

Being the product of human effort or expression, no document can be perfect or irreproachable. Such documents should be amendable. This shows that societies evolve.

It is the effect on ground realities that must guide us in ­evaluating constitutions rather than adhering blindly to supposed “best” and “grand” abstract principles.

There is an urgent need for a constitutional review if ­people and not paper formulations still matter.

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