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Rhyno Vermaak
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Can the Constitution stop civil war?

27 June 2012, 21:12
We currently live in a time where political conflict is threatening to flow into the streets of South Africa, marking yet another turning point in the country’s history to avert bloodshed.

Most people have seen this before, and lived through it during the late 80’s and early 90’s, leading to the upheaval of Nelson Mandela to demigod status by both blacks and whites alike.

The fact that one man was able to defy logic by graciously accepting victory, without rubbing his opponents noses in it, ensured an uneasy, yet calm truce between the different races of the country, and in a sense, gave people hope for the first time in years.

However, things changed after a decade or so, and the man now in charge is a far cry from the greater picture embracing wisdom, personified in Mandela, whose presence kept the calm for so many years.

Although Mbeki had his critics, his intelligence and direct predecessor instilled the sense that the new king is pretty much like the old, in a positive sense that is. Maybe it was the fact that both Mbeki and Mandela realised the value of the Constitution, and barring their criticism, always ensured that they adhered to it... to the letter.

No other task is paramount to the Presidency than the protection and execution of the Constitution, as if it were the last bastion of reason and justice on earth.

Without it, the country...any country, loses its soul and any defiance thereof by the government, and in particular, the Presidency, opens up Pandora’s Box to its own demise.

The problem arises when the Government of the day doesn’t have due regard for the Constitution, something Zuma already illustrated when he had Mbeki ousted.

Technically, parliament had to accept the resignation of the previous president, and not the Zuma brigade in Luthuli House.

Personally, I don’t see Zuma protecting the Constitution as his predecessors did, and in the manner expected of the president, simply, according to me, he has no comprehension of the fact that a piece of paper rather than a person is in fact the ruler of all.

The risks of an uneducated president is firmly vested with his need to assert his own power, because he has a massive chip on the shoulder, a concept that echoes through history and underlining the need for someone with a formal qualification... even a B.A degree (the shame...) would suffice, if you will.

Add the Youth League to the mix, with their calls for the abuse of the Constitution by nationalisation and expropriation, and you’ll note that Zuma neither has the will nor the influence to enforce and protect the Constitution... not even against the undisciplined Youths...

One needs to remember that the Constitution can only be amended by a two thirds majority, something Zuma doesn’t have at the moment, and probably wouldn’t get, if he were to remain the presidential candidate for the next election.

That means the ANC can have ‘robust debates’ until they are blue, nothing can be implemented until they achieve such a feat.

I do regard their optimism as somewhat audacious, as they obviously expect to regain their two thirds in the near future.

Either that or they simply expect to disregard the Constitution as if it didn’t exist, in which case military conflict will follow when the last Constitutional Court order is disregarded.

One could expect the Youth League to be ignorant as to what is constitutionally acceptable or not, as their strategic planning abilities is about as developed as Lesotho.

Also bear in mind that they are nothing more than a bargaining chip on behalf of the ANC, making radical propositions to make the party seem like the sober think tank, when some ridiculous middle way is reached.

I mean, the ANC said it themselves in recent times “...the Youth League should be militant and revolutionary...” in their own words, to encourage debate and force a compromise from the stakeholders concerned.

It’s quite simple really, just scream nationalisation, and you get the opportunity to raise mining taxes drastically. Apply the same logic to land redistribution, and the stubborn old farmers sell their property for next to nothing...

The problem arises when the game is taken too far, and the average shack dweller starts revolting on the calls for expropriation and nationalisation. You see, this person doesn’t give a damn about Constitutional supremacy, the rule of law or the ways to balance a developing economy...

All this person cares about is a place to live and something to eat. A patch of land will do nicely, especially if you don’t have to pay for it. Who cares about the rest of the country, as long as I can plant my patch of mielies, have a goat, maybe a cow or two, and 6 wives.

Yes, brilliant idea to feed all that counterproductive garbage of nationalisation and expropriation to this person, who cares nothing of government spending, the country’s GDP and the industrialisation of the primary and secondary sectors of the economy.

My remarks on my fellow South Africans is not meant to degrade them, nor to downgrade their existence, but simply to show that there is wisdom ‘in not promoting the slave to king...’ (in this case, very politically incorrect, but that’s the way the saying goes...)

Of course everyone deserves the right to a good life, or a shot at it at least.

The problem just arises when the people who don’t contribute to the country is brainwashed into thinking they have the right to take what they want, because their own government didn’t do their job.

They don’t answer to the Constitution, because they are the object of its protection, we all are.

Government can undermine the Constitution, and they can be held accountable because they are sworn to do so, yet the poorest of the poor... didn’t.

Notable then, that we are protected by the Constitution, as long as the ANC doesn’t have the support to change it, yet at the same time, its value is reduced to a simple piece of paper when ‘street justice’ starts invading commercial farm land, or brings the mining sector to its knees with strikes demanding 51% of company equity...

It would seem then, that it is a perceived power the Constitution wields, only showing its effectiveness to those who know its worth.

Maybe the time has come for some Constitutional education in the poorest parts of the country, which gives the perceived power some reality. Something that is way overdue, in anyway...

If the masses only knew what Constitutional powers they had, none of them would have encouraged reform on that front. Education then, is key as economic integrity simply cannot be maintained any other way.

So, does the Constitution have the ability to protect us from civil war? Well, as long as we know what a powerful weapon it is, yes...

For if we forget that, it becomes just another useless hope for the future... something to strive for, someday, even though we’ve had it for 18 years.

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