Why do we have a Constitution?

After the end of Apartheid in South Africa, there was the need to establish a democratic system of government that upholds human rights, dignity, freedom and equality of all people. Such a democratic system is best implemented and guaranteed by means of a Constitution.

The Constitution of a country contains a set of rules and values to guide the actions of those who govern and those who are governed. It explains how the government must be organised and how it must operate and allocate the roles and responsibilities of state institutions.

Today, South Africa is what we call a constitutional democracy.

Our Constitution of 1996 is the supreme legal document of the Republic of South Africa. It protects our rights as citizens and offers special provisions to hold political leaders accountable, in line with democratic values and principles. We are no longer subjects to the whims of an authoritarian regime, but can be active citizens in a constitutional democracy.

South Africa chose to follow a worldwide trend by adopting a supreme Constitution to guide society towards the establishment of a meaningful democracy in which the ideals of freedom, equality, justice, good governance and peace can be pursued. The Constitution protects us against abuse of power and contains a promise for a better future.

We have inherited the fruits of the work of former president Nelson Mandela and millions of South Africans who fought for democracy during the struggle against Apartheid. It is of upmost importance that we, as citizens, protect the Constitution against possible threats and help to ensure that political leaders adhere to the provisions of the Constitution. Our Constitution is our blueprint for a better future.

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