Address issues before they become problems – judge
THE constitution is not under any immediate threat, but this could change if problems such as corruption, poverty and unemployment are not dealt with, former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson says.
“The danger to the constitution lies with poverty, corruption and service delivery. It is not an easy task, but it should be addressed.
“Those in the political field should address these issues,” Chaskalson said during a discussion on the topic “Is South Africa’s Constitution in Danger?”
The event was arranged by the Centre for Conflict Resolution and was held at the Iziko Museum’s Centre for Conflict Resolution last night.
Chaskalson said corruption was a major obstruction to economic development and hampered the delivery of services and the battle against unemployment.
He said the Bill of Rights entitled people to basic needs.
If those needs were not addressed, the result could be protests and labour disputes that would destabilise the country.
Protests and labour disputes were a “serious” threat to a functional government.
The public needed clarity on a “contentious” policy change mooted by the ANC that would see some provinces amalgamated.
“No one knows which provinces will be affected or how this new change will affect them. There is no clarity,” Chaskalson said.
Possible changes to the constitution were to be discussed at the ANC national policy conference in June.
Most of the proposed changes, as outlined on the ANC’s website, would be difficult to pass, Chaskalson added.
In the meantime, some in society felt there were still inequalities, and an inadequate education system was seen as mirroring the apartheid regime.
In response to a question from the floor, Chaskalson said there was nothing wrong with the constitution.
However, the government had to deliver to the people, or there could be problems.