Speech by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP and President of the United Democratic Movement in a Joint Sitting of Parliament Debate on the 25th Anniversary of the Constitution
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Honourable Speaker and
1. The Constitution: a solid foundation for our democracy
Our constitution has provided, and still provides, a sound basis upon which South Africa has been built anew after apartheid was brought to a fall.
It certainly is a wonderful example of what South Africans are capable of and what is possible when we work together. This major accomplishment is the product of the right attitude, hard work and distilling “that which is right”, into words.
These past 25 years, our supreme law has been stress tested in certain aspects. For instance, our media and courts have shown their independence to a great extent and our Constitutional Court is a feather in the nation’s cap.
However, not everything has been plain sailing. But, I am not speaking of the document itself, rather of the execution of its mandate.
2. The mandate? The crux of our constitution is the Bill of Rights
Chapter 2 of the Constitution is not a “wish list”, or a “nice to have” for the people.
It is a list of citizen’s rights which the state has a constitutional obligation to “respect, protect, promote and fulfil”.
In fact, at a distilled level, every task that government executes, every waking hour, should be geared towards the expression of the Bill of Rights.
We can therefore agree that the Constitution is crystal clear on what the socio-economic challenges, and what the backlogs and imbalances, are.
However, instead of addressing these clearly spelt-out challenges, the comrades in corruption chose to write a new chapter to the Constitution called: “Corruption”.
A 27-year long chapter where cadre deployment meant that mediocre and people who could be influenced were appointed in key positions in our government departments, institutions and state-owned entities.
Ruling party structures outside government could audaciously instruct officials to allocate tenders, especially at local level, to its card-carrying members. A very nifty fundraising trick.
3. The next 25 years
Honourable colleagues, we cannot allow the status quo to stand.
The Constitution has empowered Parliament to play a powerful role, especially the National Assembly.
We represent the people and ensure government by the people under the Constitution.
We do so by various tools, but mostly by, as the Constitution puts it, “…scrutinizing and overseeing executive action.”
It is our job, to make sure that South Africa is governed properly, and that the Constitution is made manifest through the actions of government and the state.
I thank you.