We should use the rights we have under the Constitution to bring about the next wave of change in South Africa, said former judge of the Constitutional Court and anti-apartheid activist Albie Sachs on Thursday (24 August 2017).
He delivered the fourth Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture at the Stellenbosch University Museum on the Stellenbosch campus.
Sachs said that instead of blaming and abusing the Constitution, we should rather use it to achieve deeper and rapid transformation.
“The Constitution does not entrench the massive inequality in South Africa but rather speaks about achieving freedom. I see the text of the Constitution as a document clamouring for change."
Sachs added that the Constitution often becomes an alibi or a justification for people who are not willing to reflect on the issues we face as a country.
He rejected the notion that those who drafted the Constitution were sell-outs and that it was just an elite pact between Mandela and business people.
“It is extremely dismissive and demeaning to scores of us born and bred and growing up in the struggle to say that we are either sell-outs or stooges; that we are now going to betray everything thing that we've been fighting for all those years."
Sachs added that those involved in drafting the Constitution wanted the best for the country.
“All of us wanted transformation in the country and we got the constitutional text we felt would give us the best possibilities of achieving that."
“When I look at the text today, I really feel proud at how much was achieved. In that sense the text is my documentary proof that it wasn't some kind of deal done to protect capital and to make sure there was no change."
Sachs said he has sympathy for people who feel our policies in South Africa have not been extensive and radical enough.
He added that while we need more transformation, we shouldn't blame the Constitution for the current state of affairs.
“If we have bad weather politically, we must rely on the Constitution," Sachs said.
- Photo: Justice Albie Sachs delivers the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture.
- Photographer: Anton Jordaan