Welcome Address by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Hon Thandi Modise, on the Launch of Theme Committee Books and Commemorative Book

Programme Director,

Speaker and Deputy Speaker,

President of the Republic,

Members of Parliament,

Our Dignitaries,

Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of Parliament, I have a singular honour to welcome you to this distinct ceremony to honour the legacies of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu and to celebrate the Constitution of our young and matured democracy. We are also here amongst others to initiate interactions between the Theme Committee Members, the Legislators, Members of the Executive, the Judiciary and the Academia on the Constitution drafting process.

In a nutshell we are here to launch the following publications:

A commemorative book which contains excepts from speeches made by the Constitutional Assembly members on the Constitution;

A comic book on the Constitution to simplify the Constitution for ordinary citizen; and

A series of theme committee books which contain contributions and perspectives of Members of the Constitutional Assembly as well as technical advisors who were involved in the process of drafting the Constitution, specifically members of theme committees 1,2,3,5 and 6. We need to state that the work of theme committee 4, reflections on the Bill of Rights was published and launched by Parliament in 2016.

I wish to convey our heartfelt gratitude to all dignitaries and Hon Members for making the time for this important event.

Let me also thank the President for being here with us amid the tight schedule. Members will know that he was amongst the collective who played a critical role in the constitution-drafting process. He served as a chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly in that period.

The negotiations that took place before the 1994 democratic elections, led to the adoption of the interim constitution and a political agreement to finalise the outstanding matters within a given period. The Interim Constitution or transitional Constitution was mainly intended to provide an "historic bridge" between the past and the future and facilitate the continued governance of South Africa, while an elected Constitutional Assembly drew up a final Constitution. This was because the negotiating parties did not feel it proper to make the final document without public support through the electoral system.

Hon. Members

The year 2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and the Albertina Sisulu our giants of the liberation struggle and champions of democracy and human rights.

President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address in February, has urged us to honour both of them not only in word, but, more importantly, in direct action towards the achievement of their shared vision of a better society.

Parliament together with the legislative sector have developed a yearlong centenary programme to celebrate and honour their legacy.

Hon Members,

We started with a range of activities to commemorate the 20 years of the Constitution as well as the establishment of the National Council of Provinces. 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the signing into law of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa by former president Nelson Mandela on 10 December 1996 and the inception of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 6 February 1997. In March last year, Parliament launched a programme that celebrates these historic achievements.

Today as part of the celebration we have put the following objectives of the commemorative sub-projects which is to:

Pay tribute to the political master-minds, negotiators and drafters (pioneers) of the Constitution.

Celebrate two decades of South Africa's first democratic Constitution and the achievements in political, social and economic rights and freedoms, human rights and the rule of law for all South Africans.

Re-group the founding members of the Senate and the NCOP, as well as participants representing all other categories of role-players involved in the transition to democracy.

Foster greater patriotism and nation-building through renewed national momentum around the aspirations of the Constitution.

Reinforce and remind the electorate of the significant transformational changes introduced by the Constitution, with a particular focus on the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.

Encourage dialogue and the sharing of experiences of what the adoption of the Constitution signified in the lives of the different generations.

Capture these historical events through pictures, artefacts, storytelling and narrative.

In conclusion we must honour the legacy of the Tata Mandela and MaSisulu by working together to build a country that we all can be proud of. Nelson Mandela said and I quote The Constitution is a living document. Our understanding of its requirements will and must adapt over time. But the fundamental principles are and must be unchanging. Full understanding of how and why those principles were adopted will help us to ensure that we remain true to the solemn undertakings which we have made to each other and to those who follow us.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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