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Statement on the year long celebration of 20th Anniversary Celebrations of the Constitution

3 March 2017

The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa today launched a year long celebration of 20 Years of the Constitution and the establishment of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) under the theme "My Constitution, My Rights, My Responsibilities".

The African National Congress proudly joins the nation in observation of the 20th Anniversary of the adoption and signing into law of the South African Constitution by the National Assembly in 1996. It was at that moment in our history that the we set in motion the institutional framework for undoing the deep legacy of racial injustice, dispossession and dehumanisation of the African people.

Throughout its engagement in the struggle for national liberation, the ANC has always been driven by the belief that constitutionalism is a critical feature of a system of human rights. In this regard, the signing into law of the Constitution affirmed our commitment to entrenching this progressive value system of human rights.

The 20 Years of the Constitution celebrations coincide with the declaration of 2017 as the Year of OR Tambo, a visionary who represents a generation of leaders who made a significant contribution to the process that led to the adoption of the internationally acclaimed constitution.

The South African constitution emerged as a crucial platform of progress in the centuries-long struggle by the oppressed and revolutionary people of this land to establish a humane system of social relations. It served to institute a binding culture of human rights, the rule of law, and an ethically sustainable system of administering justice.

On the occasion of the signing into law of this Constitution, 20 years ago, the people of South Africa signalled the beginning of a lifetime commitment of engaging questions of development and transformation within a framework of humaneness. The South African constitution serves as an important framework within which national discourse can and should be held, forever upholding and reaffirming our collective humanity even in moments of sharp differences.

By design the constitution decrees a broad ethical framework of justice and equality for national imagination. It doesn't assume a perfect definition of society. In this regard, we have a duty to advance and enrich the constitution with continuous work at the level of  public policy in order to improve the living conditions of our people in line with the values of the constitution.

The African National Congress reaffirms its confidence and commitment to the values advanced by the South African Constitution. We firmly believe that the doctrine of human equality that underlies its value system is an incredible basis for national unity and the pursuit of social justice.

It is this commitment to the values enshrined in the South African Constitution that has guided the work of the ANC in its approach to governance, including before its adoption.

We will continue to advance the constitution and its values in our work in government and in discharging our broad leadership of South African society.

Issued by the African National Congress

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