25 years of the Constitution: Is the Constitutional Court fulfilling its role of protecting our constitutional democracy?
Two years after South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, the country's new Constitution was adopted on 8 May 1996, following extensive consultations, signifying just how much change the country had undergone.
The Constitution sets out the country's values, the rights of the people, how Parliament and the other legislatures work, how the national and provincial executives are chosen, and how the courts work. It also establishes six institutions to support our democracy.
At the heart of our Constitution are seven fundamental values: democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect and freedom.
Under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court was established. It is the highest court in the country when it comes to the interpretation, protection and enforcement of the Constitution. It has also become one of the most important institutions shaping the country's constitutional democracy.
But, as News24's Karyn Maughan writes for this week's Friday Briefing, the Constitutional Court is facing some challenges. Just five months before his term ends, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has decided to go on long leave. Maughan writes that his exit puts pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to choose a new Chief Justice, especially at a time when the judiciary has come under attack. Casac's Lawson Naidoo and Dan Mafora examine how delayed judgments and budget cuts have impacted on the Constitutional Court meting out justice.
To reflect on the 25-year anniversary of the Constitution, Constitutional Law expert, Professor David Bilchitz, investigates whether the Constitution needs reform, while University of the Free State's Dean of Law, Professor John C Mubangizi, Dean: Faculty of Law and SARChi chair, Professor Betty C Mubangizi, analyse whether the Constitution has achieved its social contract.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's decision to take long leave and exit from his position as South Africa's most powerful judge shouldn't be seen as a surprise, as Mogoeng has already opted out of leading the country's courts, writes Karyn Maughan.
Heavier caseloads, delayed judgments and budget cuts at the Constitutional Court impact the meting out of justice, writes Lawson Naidoo and Dan Mafora.
We need to focus on utilising the constitutional framework we have by, firstly, empowering individuals to demand decent governance and, secondly, on ensuring the institutions of governance function effectively, writes David Bilchitz.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Constitution, it is opportune to cast an eye back over those years and reflect on how far it has delivered on its social contract and to what extent it has achieved its intended objectives, writes John C Mubangizi and Betty C Mubangizi.
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