SA Constitution- 20 years

We reproduce extracts from the Constitution and ask the following questions

1. As South Africans are we proud of our constitution?

2. To what extent do we understand and know the constitution?

3. What clauses are we most proud of?

$. What sections would we like to amend if any and why?

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, was approved by the Constitutional Court (CC) on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997.

The process of drafting the Constitution involved many South Africans in the largest public participation programme ever carried out in South Africa. After nearly two years of intensive consultations, political parties represented in the Constitutional Assembly negotiated the formulations contained in this text, which are an integration of ideas from ordinary citizens, civil society and political parties represented in and outside of the Constitutional Assembly.

This Constitution therefore represents the collective wisdom of the South African people and has been arrived at by general agreement.

The preamble to the constitution states among other things that we :

Recognise the injustices of our past;

Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;

Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and

Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic ­

Important to know and respect

National anthem

National flag

The Bill of rights entrenched in the constitution to protect our dignity and rights are.

  1. Equality

  2. Human dignity

  3. Life

  4. Freedom and security of the person

  5. Slavery, servitude and forced labour

  6. Privacy

  7. Freedom of religion, belief and opinion

  8. Freedom of expression

  9. Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition

  10. Freedom of association

  11. Political rights

  12. Citizenship

  13. Freedom of movement and residence

  14. Freedom of trade, occupation and profession

  15. Labour relations

  16. Environment

  17. Property

  18. Housing

  19. Health care, food, water and social security

  20. Children

  21. Education

  22. Language and culture

  23. Cultural, religious and linguistic communities

  24. Access to information

  25. Just administrative action

  26. Access to courts

  27. The rights of arrested, detained and accused persons

Limitation of rights

The rights in the Bill of Rights may be limited only in terms of law of general application to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including ­


The constitution has also provided for instruments to protect these rights

* Public Protector

* South African Human Rights Commission

* Commission for Gender Equality

* Auditor-General

* Independent Electoral Commission

* Independent Authority to Regulate Broadcasting

The 20th anniversary is an appropriate time to reflect on these rights and to look at how far we attained a society which indeed enjoys these rights and a government that not only ensures that these rights are accessed but also respected. Let us consider these rights further and come up with ways we can attain the ideals of this constitution.