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President Cyril Ramaphosa together with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Ms Thandi Modise, will on Tuesday launch Theme Books published to celebrate the Constitution and the centenary birthdays of Madiba and MaSisulu at Parliament.

This launch coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Constitution which came into effect on 4 February 1997 and the establishment of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 6 February 1997. These are key milestones of our country’s democratic transition. Our Constitution has since its inception been the totem of our human rights culture which is revered across the globe. And its principle has inspired civil liberties and the tradition of constitutional democracy in Africa. This is what has set South Africa apart and there is no better institution to celebrate these achievements than the very institution that incepted it. To date, even matured democracies benchmark their civil liberties against it. And it remains an envy of many countries across the globe.   

Out of our Constitution flowed the NCOP. Its inception was a remarkable achievement for its inter-governmental agenda sought to strengthen the resolve to ensure that the fruits of our democracy are enjoyed by every South African. And governance is decentralised to reach even those living in the back of the beyond. The oversight programmes of this august House, as it is affectionately known, such as Taking Parliament to the People, Provincial and Local Government Weeks, have played a critical role in realising this resolve. Since its inception, the NCOP has extended the avenues of public participation to citizens and civil society.

These Theme Books will pay tribute to these outstanding achievements of our parliamentary democracy.  

The key aspect of the anniversary is to invite those who were close to the Constitution-drafting process to write about that ground-breaking moment in our history. And the forebears of the NCOP who moulded it to be what it is today.

These books contain contributions and perspectives from a wide range of current and past Members of Parliament and other South Africans who reflect, among other things, on the character of The Democratic State, Structure of Government, Relationship between Spheres of Government; Judicial System in our New Democratic Dispensation, and Specialised Structures of Government.

Leaders of political parties; Members of the Executive; the Tambo, Mandela and Sisulu families; and leaders of civil society formations, such as the academic community, to name just one, are also expected to grace the launch ceremony.

By Abel Mputing

10 September 2018