South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa heads constitution convention after EFF-led protests


President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, 22 March, delivered a keynote address to mark the opening of a three-day National Conference on the Constitution at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng. Ramaphosa was accompanied by a few ministers from his Cabinet who looked at various laws and the country’s constitutional order, it has been reported.

Themed “Reflections And The Road Ahead: Reflections on the Constitution: Rule of law, accountability, social and economic justice,” the event was an opportune moment for President Cyril Ramaphosa to emphasize his calls for law and order saying without the rule of law, South Africa is vulnerable to mayhem. The historical constitutional convention falls barely 2 days after the EFF-led #NationalShutdown protests demanding an end to rolling electricity blackouts in the country, and for the South African President’s resignation.

“Working together with Parliament, I think there should be an opportunity for us to look at our Constitution as a product of long and protracted struggles for freedom, for justice, and a better life for all the people of our country,” said President Ramaphosa. President Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly acknowledged that the failure of the government and municipalities to provide adequate basic services was a human rights infringement at a Human Rights Day event on Tuesday.

The constitutional convention is expected to engage the South African public in dialogue on the past 25 years of the South African Constitution. Reflecting on the gains of democracy, Ramaphosa said all levels of government needed to be addressed.

“It should also reflect on matters such as how we deal with corruption, crime, national security, and how these issues impact on the exercise and the protection of human rights. This conference gives us an opportunity to reflect on the road that we must traverse to strengthen our constitutional democracy,” he added.

Prominent members of civil society, government, and stakeholders together are expected to inspect matters affecting the country in regard to nation-building, gender equality, youth economic empowerment, service delivery, as well as social stability.

According to a press statement, the historical platform has promoted continuous, robust debate on the purpose and effectiveness of the Constitution, as well as the state of democracy in the country. This year’s National Conference on the Constitution program speaks to a time when the country is facing a myriad of challenges, threatening the possibility of civil unrest. The convention is also being held a day after South Africa’s Human Rights Day held in commemoration of the landmark Sharpville Massacre which occurred on 21 March 1960.

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