/ 22 March 2023

Ramaphosa: SA must address social issues to uphold Constitution

African Mining Indaba 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: David Harrison)

The success of South Africa’s constitutional democracy depends on addressing crucial issues, such as the high levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality, corruption and violence, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

Ramaphosa told delegates at a conference on the Constitution in Midrand on Wednesday that the event was an opportunity to reflect on how to strengthen democracy and address the country’s many challenges around the rule of law, accountability and social and economic justice.

He said the purpose of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land which came into effect on 4 February 1997, was to heal the divisions of the country’s apartheid past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

“The contours of our racist and sexist past still feature in private and public institutions, in business, in access to skills, wealth and opportunity, and in the spatial configuration of our cities, towns and rural areas,” Ramaphosa said, adding that the country’s constitutional project would fail if all levels of government did not address inequalities and poverty.

“Therefore, as this conference reflects on the road ahead, it should reflect on issues such as progress on land restitution and reform, electoral reform and governance, and transformation of the economy. It should also reflect on corruption, crime and national security, and how these issues impact on the exercise and protection of human rights,” he said.

“There is no viable state or effective constitutional democracy without the support and involvement of citizens in the different public formations.”

Apart from paying taxes, observing the law and contributing to social and economic development, citizens played an important role in establishing governance structures and in holding accountable those put in charge to serve the nation, the president said.

Parliament, as a representative of the citizens, has a clear mandate to hold the president, deputy president and ministers to account, individually and collectively, for the exercise of their powers and performance of their functions,” he said.

He urged tolerance for different views and called on South Africans to work together towards banishing homelessness, illiteracy, hunger and disease.