Protect our constitution, the legacy our founders left for us: Public Protector appeals to legal graduates
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Wednesday urged young legal graduates to protect the constitution and the legacy our democratic founders left for the country.
Speaking at the University of Pretoria’s law faculty recognition of achievers awards, Public Protector Madonsela said the current generation was the one the country, the continent and the world had been waiting for.
Adv. Madonsela based her view on the World Economic Forum’s study on the millennials which found, among others, that this generation was socially conscious, concerned about social justice and ready to take up positions in society to effect progress for common good.
She used a narrative from George O’well’s Animal farm to drive home her message, warning graduates that it was up to them to ensure that this country did not descend into the farm as described in the book.
“Do not allow our beautiful country,” the Public Protector warned, “to become something similar to the animal farm.”
The Public Protector told graduates that protecting the legacy the constitutional democracy founders left for the country, called on them to play their part in ensuring that the state operated as envisaged in the constitution and created necessary conditions for speedy progress towards the constitutional promise of an improved quality of life for all and a freed potential for every person.
She said it was important for the country to note that the constitution of the republic established a constitutional democracy. This, the Public Protector said, meant that the constitution, and not parliament, was supreme and signified a break from the apartheid state which was based on parliamentary sovereignty.
The Public Protector warned graduates that their quest to protect the constitution and the country was not going to be an easy task and carried, among other things, attacks, insults and being labelled as “counter-revolutionaries”.
Adv. Madonsela, however, asked them to draw motivation from true revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, Amicar Cabral and Oliver Tambo.
Quoting from the Guevara, who said stealing public resources aimed at delivering fruits of the revolution to the people was counter-revolutionary, the Public Protector encouraged graduates who packed the university’s lecture hall to go with the Argentinian born Cuban revolutionary’s definition of counter-revolutionary.
“If they call you counter revolutionary because you seek to play a part in protecting the legacy,” the Public Protector said, “wear that as a badge of honour knowing that true and selfless revolutionaries like Guevara, Cabral and Tambo would view counter revolutionaries as those that steal or enable the stealing of state resources meant to deliver the constitutional dream.”
The Public Protector extended her warning to society and opined that people who turned against those that reminded their consciences about values underpinning the South Africa the people signed up to become when the Constitution was adopted, were no better than the pigs in the Animal farm storyline.
She narrated how pigs protected wrongdoers and wrongdoing in the farm after people had been thrown out of the farm in the name of revolution and even redefined what was revolutionary in a perverted way.
Adv. Madonsela assured the youth that the country counted on them as lawyers and members of society to play their part as earnestly as possible in preserving the legacy and taking the nation towards a society envisaged by the constitution.
Pledging her support and that of her office to their quest for social justice and an accountable state, the Public Protector said this could be achieved by citizens playing their part in ensuring that state actors, who exercise state power and control public resources carried such responsibilities in a manner that is accountable, has integrity and is responsive to the rights and needs of all.