Opposition parties tear into ANC in debate on SA constitution

28 May 2021 - 16:29
Opposition parties went after the ANC for its poor track record in government during a joint sitting of parliament to mark 25 years since the adoption of the constitution. File photo.
Opposition parties went after the ANC for its poor track record in government during a joint sitting of parliament to mark 25 years since the adoption of the constitution. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

What was meant to be a debate on the 25th anniversary of the country’s constitution turned into a political tit-for-tat when opposition political parties tore into the ruling party for its poor track record in government.

One after another they went after the ANC during a joint sitting of parliament to mark 25 years since the adoption of the constitution.

Freedom Front Plus (FF+) MP Corné Mulder was the first to criticise the ANC when he said the constitution was not the best in the world. 

“Why is the country in trouble, tell me? Is it the constitution? Is this the ANC government? Because all the problems created in these 25 years have been created within the provisions of this specific constitution,” said Mulder.

He said the country was not celebrating 25 years of the constitution but 25 years of ANC misrule and corruption, courtesy of the provisions of the constitution.

The tragic reality is that corruption and gross misgovernance of our resources by the government deprive our people on a daily basis from claiming their socioeconomic rights.
IFP NCOP member Xolani Ngwezi

ATM leader Vuyo Zungula also criticised the constitution, saying it was not the best in the world.

“There is nothing to celebrate about the constitution of South Africa. A constitution ought to translate to equality and a good quality of life for all citizens. What are the facts about South Africa? South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. It has the worst unemployment rate in the world. It has more than 30 million living in poverty,” said Zungula.

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam questioned if the constitution achieved its objective 25 years after it was adopted.

“More and more South Africans today, 25 years after the adoption of the constitution, go hungry. More are homeless today. The question we need to ask is whether this constitution has achieved its desired objectives. The response is a clear and emphatic no,” said Shaik Emam.

IFP National Council of Provinces member Xolani Ngwezi also went after the ANC government, questioning its track record to improve the quality of life of all citizens.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who was ANC secretary-general at the time, stands next to President Nelson Mandela as he holds up a copy of the new SA constitution at its signing in 1996. File photo.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who was ANC secretary-general at the time, stands next to President Nelson Mandela as he holds up a copy of the new SA constitution at its signing in 1996. File photo.
Image: ROBBIE BOTHA

“The tragic reality is that corruption and gross misgovernance of our resources by the government deprive our people on a daily basis from claiming their socioeconomic rights,” said Ngwezi. 

He said the government had failed dismally in delivering on its mandate to improve the quality of life for all citizens, and instead it blames the constitution.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa called ANC leaders “thieves”.

“The comrades in corruption chose to write a new chapter in the constitution called corruption: a 27-year-long chapter where cadre deployment meant mediocre [people] and people who could be influenced were appointed in key positions in government departments, institutions and state-owned entities,” said Holomisa. 

EFF MP Veronica Mente was the first to have a go at both the ANC and the constitution, saying although it is hailed as the best in the world, not a single country sought to emulate it.

“It imagines a world where the persecuted live in peace with their persecutors, with no redress and no material acknowledgment of the past roles. It proclaims to recognise the injustices of our past while at the same time acting as a stonewall around those who perpetrated these injustices and their descendants,” said Mente.

ANC MPs, however, hailed the constitution as the best in the world with KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala calling it the “jewel in the crown of our liberation struggle”, while international relations minister Naledi Pandor said it drew us together in a manner that no single legal instrument had.

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola hit back at opposition parties, saying the debate was not about an elections manifesto.  

He labelled the EFF as peacetime revolutionaries who spoke military lingo to divide the nation and criticised the FF+, saying it was yearning for the days of apartheid. 

“Under apartheid, corruption was worse. Apartheid legalised corruption. They have no moral ground or anything. The system on its own was immoral,” said Lamola.

He said the current constitution had brought people to the centre and it was for that reason the ANC wanted all to come together to build the nation.

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