‘Unite to build a better SA’

2019-09-11 06:00
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered the lecture in the University of the Free State’s (UFS) annual Prestige Lecture Series on 30 August. From the left are Prof. Prakash Naidoo (vice-rector for operations of the UFS), Chief Justice Mogoeng and Prof. John Mubangizi (dean for the Faculty of Law of the UFS). Photo: Supplied

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered the lecture in the University of the Free State’s (UFS) annual Prestige Lecture Series on 30 August. From the left are Prof. Prakash Naidoo (vice-rector for operations of the UFS), Chief Justice Mogoeng and Prof. John Mubangizi (dean for the Faculty of Law of the UFS). Photo: Supplied

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The government of the day should be based on the will of the people and be led by people who deserve to lead.

This is the view of the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng.

In his lecture on trans­formative constitutionalism, he emphasised the importance of upholding the will of the people through creditable leadership.

This annual lecture in the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Prestige Lecture Series was delivered at the Faculty of Law on 30 August.

Chief Justice Mogoeng explained that the will of the people and deserving leaders simply meant that said the Constitution must be utilised as a tool to change or move a family, society, institution or the nation from an unacceptable to a more desirable position.

He added that constitutionalism could be enhanced through ethical, courageous and visionary leadership.

“There is a belief that judges should have nothing to do with matters of politics. I agree, but only to a certain extent. Judges are supposed to deal with political issues, as they interpret the constitution and the law. It is inescapable in a South African context. Some say that judges should only speak through their judgments, but I have always said that our constitution is political in nature. “The preamble of the Constitution says this country belongs to all who live in it, but to what extent have we allowed our Constitution to achieve these objectives?

“A constitution does not implement itself. It takes people with a particular mindset and conviction. Transformation demands from the public to ensure that government is truly based on the will of the people.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng maintained that South Africa needed strong institutions and a strong judiciary.

“Institutions must be vigilant to any form of abuse of power. Institutions are not only captured by external forces, but by internal ones as well,” he said.

One of these institutions, education – and the quality of higher education at every level –, is another element crucial to transformative constitutionalism.

“Our school system must equip matriculants sufficiently so that they can easily adapt to the pressures of university.”

He said more people who truly love the country were needed in positions of power.

needs more people who truly care for it to people who truly love the country should assume positions of power. His lecture paid tribute to people like Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and Bram Fischer, who opted for the greater good of many, rather than personal gratification and gain.

“Transformative constitutionalism is all about giving expression in a practical way. We should look at solutions for our country based on compromises that can bring us together as South Africans,” said Chief Justice Mogoeng.

“South Africa belongs to all – not some – who live in it. We should be united in our diversity. Are you prepared to serve the state? Do you love this nation? Go out there and pursue social justice. Don’t buy things from thieves just because they are cheap. This encourages crime,” Chief Justice Mogoeng said.

“We cannot continue on the same path and expect a different outcome. It is not too late; go out there and contri­bute towards building a South Africa that we can be proud of.”

Hosted by Prof. John Mubangizi, dean of the UFS Faculty of Law, the prestige lecture was attended by approximately 800 guests, comprising senior members of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the High Court, the university’s executive management, the Faculty of Law, staff members, students and members of the public.

The Prestige Lecture Series, originally known as the Law Deans’ Prestige Lecture Series, was initiated by Prof. Johan Henning, former Dean of the UFS Faculty of Law.

The series started in 2011 as an initiative to encourage, develop and expand academic discourse on topical jurisprudential issues and related matters.

Previous lectures were delivered by, among others, Prof. Barry Rider of the University of Cambridge, Justice Richard Goldstone, formerly of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

More recently, Judge Dennis Davies, who was acting in the Supreme Court of Appeal, also delivered a lecture.

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