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Our Constitution 21 years on – Arch for Arch: A Call for “We The People”

10 Dec 2017

Johannesburg: Today, 10 December 2017, our hard-won Constitution turns 21 years. A commemoration event for this milestone is being held at the highest Court in the Land, the Constitutional Court.  The main proceedings include a lekgotla led by former and current justices of the Constitutional Court, members of the legal fraternity and social justice activists.  The theme of the event "Looking Back to Look Forward: The Next 21 years of the Constitution" suggests a sober reflection of the gains of our Constitution and the key activities that still remain for the furthering of democracy.

On 10 December 1984 Archbishop, Emeritus Desmond Tutu accepted the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.  As South Africa's foremost campaigner for democracy Tutu used the moment to denounce apartheid South Africa as a land bereft of much justice, and therefore without peace and security.  He boldly stated that unrest will remain an unchanging feature of the South African landscape until apartheid, the root cause of it all, is finally dismantled.  At the time, no one would have anticipated that exactly 12 years later to the day, 10 December 1996, Nelson Mandela would, as South Africa's first democratically elected President, be signing our Constitution into law marking the birth of a new nation.

The Constitutional Court as the guardian of the Constitution has been instrumental in upholding the Constitution. Since its establishment, the Constitutional Court has developed a jurisprudence that has impacted the lives of all South Africans.  The role of the Constitution in securing freedom from torture, arbitrary taking of life or even freedom of expression cannot be gainsaid: law is an integral part of society's protection of these fundamental rights and the therefore the transformation of South Africa.  There is much of the 21 years of the Constitution that deserves celebration and there is much still to be done to realise the vision of Constitution for all South Africans.

An example of a South African that has played his role in securing our well renowned Constitution is Tutu. In honour of Tutu as one of the architects of our constitutional democracy a scale replica of the monument in Cape Town called the Arch for the Arch made up of 14 strands representing each chapter of the Constitution and each line of the Constitution's Preamble, will be unveiled outside the Constitutional Court. Design Indaba as commissioner, and Liberty as a supporter commissioned award-winning architects Snøhetta and Thomas Chaplin of Local Studio, to develop The Arch for the Arch. Constitution Hill, as the home of the Constitutional Court and a heritage and human rights precinct, represents the ideals that Tutu and many others fought for.  Both the Constitution and Tutu are bold beacons of pride not only for South Africans but for many around the world.

About Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is a national heritage site and home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The precinct is an effective custodian and proponent of Constitutionalism, Human Rights and Democracy in South Africa.  "It is a living breathing museum where the past, present and future collide in a glorious paradox that celebrates the victory of our present day democracy. It leaves you forever changed with the unrelenting resolve 'never again must one human being treat another human being in this manner' " - Dawn Robertson, ConHill CEO.

ConHill presents art exhibitions that are intended to spark lively and engaging experiences related to Constitutionalism, Human Rights, and Democracy at the iconic precinct, situated in the Johannesburg CBD. Constitution Hill is also open to the public for guided tours to the Women's Goal museum, Number Four museum, and Old Fort museum. This includes the notorious Old Fort Prison Complex and Number 4 where South Africa's leading political activists, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, were detained. Constitution Hill is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency and presents an important platform for Heritage, Education, and Tourism related programmes.

About Liberty

Liberty Holdings, now in its 60th year, is an established and growing Pan-African financial services group with a presence 24 African countries. With R676 billion assets under management, Liberty offers an extensive, market-leading range of products and services to help retail and corporate customers build and protect their wealth and lifestyle.  These include life and health related insurance; financial support for retirement; and investment management, provided through its sub-brand STANLIB.

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