‘WE’VE LOST OUR WAY’
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says SA’s social and economic ills are due to a lack of respect for the constitution and lessons should have been learned from our neighbours’ mistakes.
Chief justice says social and economic ills are due to a lack of respect for the constitution.
South Africa has failed to heed the lessons learned about the dangers of bad governance from its own African neighbours, says Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Speaking on the eve of the 17th annual Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture, the jurisprudent opened up about the issues which informed today’s lecture, which was to be centred around the idea of constitutionality as a tool for transformation.
He said a lack of respect and adherence to South Africa’s constitution was behind most of its social and economic ills. Older democracies around the world, including on the African continent, carried lessons which our failure to learn from has led to the “extreme” social ills ailing South Africa.
“The bottom line is there is gender-based violence in other jurisdictions, some are worse off. There is corruption in other jurisdictions [and] there are incompetent people in other jurisdictions.
“We have just allowed ourselves to be extreme in our wrongdoing. And maybe that’s what we need to highlight now, so that we can move back on track at a faster pace,” said Mogoeng.
“I think we failed to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions. We are not the first country to be independent. We have had the luxury, for lack of a better expression, of observing what others have been doing over the years, particularly in the continent of Africa.
“We have had numerous opportunities to see what is wrong and what is right.”
Adding to this sentiment, Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang said it was time to start
We have just allowed ourselves to be extreme in our wrongdoing. And maybe that’s what we need to highlight now. Mogoeng Mogoeng Chief Justice
learning more from the country’s neighbours on the continent on what to do and what not to do going forward.
“If the chief justice says we have become extreme in our wrongdoing, it is time to be extreme in our doing right. We should have learned from other countries and we should continue to learn.
“Our greatest failure in the ’90s was how we went to Canada to look at their education system. We went to Canada and Australia instead of looking at Ethiopia, looking at Zimbabwe, Botswana. How did they get it right, their context is similar to ours?”
Taking a jab at detractors who have criticised his unusual vocalism about hot-button issues facing the country, Mogoeng drew wisdom from his predecessor, Justice Pius Langa, on the role of the judiciary in society.
“There is very little that a judge does based on the constitution that is not political in character. You can’t talk about justice and not talk about racism. You can’t talk about justice and not talk about the land. You can’t talk justice and not talk about what Madiba refers to as either trade justice or economic justice,” he said.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s focus on the constitution this year was set to see the organisation take a more collaborative direction over the next few years with plans to hold dialogues among sectors of society with opposing or varying views on the constitution, politics and the law.
According to foundation chair Professor Njabulo Ndebele the foundation would be unpacking different aspects of the constitution over the next two years. – simniki[email protected]izen.co.za