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Picture: 123RF/ZEF ART
Picture: 123RF/ZEF ART

Following the riots in KwaZulu-Natal, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation, saying among other things that he would defend “our constitution”. He even called it a “triumph”.

But how effective has this foundational document been in an SA that has become a de facto one-party state ruled by a small oligarchy of post-pensionable age?

It gave us the Babel of 11 official languages. By permitting “fair” forms of discrimination it gifted us the iniquity of BEE and the now multigenerational emigration of talented youngsters.

Thanks to the constitution, we have a tricolour of expensive but ineffective institutions whose overpopulation of flunkies spend their time fighting over “competency” as opposed to getting anything done.

Its judicial appointment procedures recently became a McCarthy-like show trial where the “supposed” political views of applicants were pilloried by arrogant populists who treated their legal expertise as an irrelevance. It is practically impossible to remove incompetents such as the public protector or dictatorial bullies such as the judge president of the Western Cape.

But worst of all, this constitution encouraged the House of Assembly and National Council of Provinces to sleep while a corrupt executive captured the state. By allowing fixed-list proportional representation in national and provincial elections, it created a political class who were responsible solely to their leadership and not to the people they were supposed to serve. There is no constituency accountability. If there had been, I doubt Jacob Zuma would have survived those multiple votes of no confidence.

The few brave ANC souls who did protest couldn’t throw off party control and sit on  the “cross benches”. They had to leave the assembly, to be replaced by others who would take the silver and toe the party line.

South Africans were promised a glorious constitution. What we got was a breathtakingly naïve compromise, crafted by a kindergarten of educated fools.

James Cunningham, Camps Bay

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