- Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola says the preamble to the Constitution makes a clarion call for everyone to "heal the divisions of the past".
- In the 26 years since the Constitution came into effect, the country knows what works and what does not, says.
- He was speaking at a conference on the Constitution, held under the theme "Reflections and the Road Ahead".
South Africa comes from "a shameful history of the brutal system of colonialism and apartheid" and in response, its "forebears waged a courageous struggle for freedom", Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola said on Wednesday.
He was speaking at a conference on the Constitution held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng, under the theme "Reflections and the Road Ahead".
The minister said a reflection on the more than two decades since the Constitution came into effect would not be complete without the acknowledgement and recognition of the injustices of the past.
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"One of the distinguishing features of our Constitution from others is that ours was crafted with the ultimate goal of addressing socioeconomic rights," the minister added.
"With the inequalities borne by years of oppression, it was necessary that a Constitution drafted for South Africa responds to the reality faced by our people, imposed obligations and established structural imperatives which sought to ameliorate the apartheid legacy."
The minister added that the Freedom Charter was among the key documents produced during the fight for liberation and that it was set out to define social goals for the nation. It later set the firm foundation for the Constitution, he added.
"In this regard, our collective efforts made over the years in healing the divisions of the past have been aimed towards the attainment of a democratic state guided by the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism and non-sexism, supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, universal adult suffrage, a national common voters' roll, regular elections and a democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness."
In the 26 years since the Constitution came into effect, the country knows what works and what does not, he added.
"We've also learned from our mistakes; in persuad[ing] for an equal society, we will have to draw from this experience, there won't be easy solutions to our challenges, but together we can pull through," he said.
The Constitution was promulgated by then-president Nelson Mandela on 18 December 1996, and came into effect on 4 February 1997, replacing the Interim Constitution of 1993.