Speech by Deputy President Motlanthe on 15th Anniversary of SA Constitution

Programme Director, Cheryl Carolous;

Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng;

Former Chief Justice, Sandile Ngcobo;

Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke;

Judge Present;

Former Justices;

Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane;

Chairperson of the Constitutional Hill Trust, Cyril Ramaphosa;

Members of the Trust;

Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Fellow South Africans


I thank you most sincerely for this opportunity to address the 15th Anniversary of the signing of the South African Constitution, which we are marking through the lighting of ‘the Eternal Flame of Democracy’.


The step we are taking as a country today in lighting ‘the Eternal Flame of Democracy’ signals our irreversible commitment to democracy. 


The location of the Constitutional Court at the site which represented injustice and dehumanisation in the past is indeed a rugged expression of the victory of democracy for the people of South Africa.


In other words Constitution Hill has been turned into a site that radiates our nation’s long cherished vision of building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous society.


The ‘Eternal Flame of Democracy’ is thus a reflection to posterity of the past from which our democracy emanated and the attendant need for vigilance to protect this flame from all manner of ill-winds.


Ladies and Gentlemen;


We are lighting this ‘Eternal Flame of Democracy’ with the intention that it will dispel darkness that once imprisoned our nation. 


As it burns brighter everyday this flame must draw sustenance from the words of President Nelson Mandela during the signing of the first democratic Constitution of our Republic back in 1996 when he said:


“Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.

Let there be work, bread water and salt for all.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.”


Accordingly, this Eternal Flame of Democracy that we are lighting today must never blow out but for ever cast light on our nation.


Experience instructs us to hold dear our democratic achievements because the opposite of democracy is oppression, social conflict, and instability among others.


All of us should therefore hold on firmly to this ‘Eternal Flame of Democracy’ as we continue to cultivate conditions that will fertilise democracy, embedding it into our political culture.


The opening of a new chapter brought about by the first non-racial poll in 1994 placed an onus on South Africans to begin the long process of social transformation, partly to heal past wounds, partly to unite our people.


The need to transform society entailed changing institutions that had underpinned the previous political system.


It is common knowledge that at the heart of any notion of democracy lies the relationship between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.


As a result the key challenge that faced us as a new democracy has been the need to transform these arms of the state to accord with the vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and just society.


On the other hand, our democracy needed well-functioning Judiciary, Executive and the Legislature to drive societal transformation.


As key arms of the State, the three are have the responsibility to lead the national transformation agenda. 


Let us remember that our democracy as a country owes its birth to all South Africans of different generations, of different persuasions, class, race and gender, who cast their lot in with a vision of a new society, new humanity concerned about the human condition.


These contributors to our democratic system include the broader cross section of the South African population.


Without the various voices and work by these South Africans, our democracy would be the poorer for it.


In particular, I wish to pay tribute to the sterling work by the judiciary and the legislature who have over the years dedicated themselves to building democracy. 


Today we are lighting this Eternal Flame of Democracy to symbolise our inner strength to live by this admirable principle and to pass it on to the coming generation.


So, please allow me to take this moment to commend this Eternal Flame of Democracy to the people of our beautiful land!


Let freedom reign!

Let there be peace and stability forever!

Let there be friendship and solidarity in every challenge faced by our people!

Let there be prosperity for all!

Let the Flames of Democracy reigns supreme forever!


I thank you!

12 December 2011

Website: www.thepresidency.gov.za

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