On this day, the 10th of December 1996 then President of South Africa, the much loved mofu Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution of the republic in Sharpeville Soweto, where in 1960, scores of black people were shot and killed by the apartheid police after thousands gathered at the Sharpeville police station in protest against pass laws which prevented them from working or living in certain parts of the country.
In his inaugural speech as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela said; ❝We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world❞
Today, 20 years later, the much criticised President Gedleyihlekisa Jacob Zuma delivered a speech in commemoration of the 20th anniversary since the adoption of the constitution at the very location, calling on all South Africans to respect the constitution. The irony is that, Zuma is seen by some as a “Constitution atheist”- in the words of the leader of the opposition party Mmusi Maimane.
Earlier this year, the Constitutional Court found that President Zuma failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Now you might ask; why is he still President?
We are deviating from the point; the focus is whether the Constitution has managed to unite us as a country. Much like Mandela’s Rainbow Nation, the Preamble of the constitution commits South Africans to a united nation, to healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values. Have we achieved this?
How far are we from healing the nation?
Last week a young woman from “the fantastic seaside republic of Hout Bay”, Vanessa Hartley went to onto Facebook to express her disgust of black people saying; ‘They are like stupid animals. We should tie them to a rope
She is NOT the only racist white person that got caught out this year, there is the convicted racist from the Kwa-Zulu Natal South coast Penny Sparrow who likened black beach goers to monkeys at the beginning of the year, a SARS employee who called his line manager a kaffir during a disagreement, there is a case currently in the Middleburg regional court where two white man shoved a black man into a coffin for trespassing and suspecting that he was a thief. Is it NOT the very constitution that says everyone has a right to freedom of movement . And there there was Judge Jansen Mabel who suggested that rape is black people’s culture
I could go on and on and on. At face value, it seems white South Africans are driving a rift between themselves and the natives of the land
Not that black South Africans are without fault, this year, an EFF member Thabo Mabotja posted on Facebook that all white people must be hacked and killed and a Gauteng Province government employee was also caught in a storm after posting; “We must act as Hitler did to the Jews. I don’t believe anymore that the is a large number of not so racist white people” on Facebook
Whites still better off
The reality is that many white South Africans remain in a position of power, privilege and still have the means of production.
White people are born with superiority entrenched in their minds, that’s why a junior employee can have guts to call his manager a kaffir*. They go the best schools, they don’t have to worry about taking care or their aged parents or siblings, they don’t have to build a home for their family, in fact, when most of them graduate they are given a home and a car to start life. If their parents die, they are left with millions of rands in inheritance and massive land and investments, setting them for life.
Black people on the other hand, just to go to university is a hustle because of the eexpensive fees, after graduation if you finish, you have to repay the student loan you or your parents took, you have to help take you siblings to school, you have to have to help your parents.
22 years after achieving democracy, black South Africans are still condemned to the squalor of poverty, uneducated, unemployment and *stuck in the townships that lie in the peripheries of the cities, NO different from the apartheid government special planning, landless and dependent on social grants by government to put them above poverty.
The constitution has dismally failed to uproot racism and has failed to empower black South Africans. But then again, the constitution is only a book, brought to life by the people. Can we say it is the people that have failed? Can we say we are a Rainbow Nation united in diversity by the constitution?