‘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.

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Simnikiwe Hlat­sha­neni

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

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