Issues of concern have been raised around constitutional illiteracy, this as only 46% of South Africans are said to have ever heard of the existence of either the Constitution, or its second chapter, the Bill of Rights.
It is said that if people do not understand the country’s Constitution, they cannot have access to it.
It’s also understood that constitutional literacy is meant to inform citizens of their rights and the natural obligations of those rights.
Thus, the argument is that when citizens and people do not read the country's Constitution and understand it, the certainty is, they will not be able to internalise it and develop the thinking and values of our society in order to contribute significantly to the transformation of the country.
According to Professor at Wits University's Graduate School of Public & Development Management, Susan Booysen, it is important to know and understand the constitution, “because it embodies the heart of South Africa’s democratic order.”
Booysen, who is also author of The ANC and the Regeneration of Political Power, tells SAFm’s AM Live current affairs show that thinking of when the constitution was adopted in the 90s, there was euphoria around the constitution, with people seeing the constitution as a symbol of their liberation.
Somehow, 21 years later, we have lost that idealism we saw back then
She adds: “Somehow, 21 years later, we have lost that idealism we saw back then, people are much more disillusioned. We do not see the active promotion of the constitution on a daily basis. We hear much more of the longer term vision of the Freedom Charter, valid as it is.”
She says the situation at the moment is like government is aware of the failures on realisation of those rights that they are almost shy to push the constitution and bill of rights aggressively. We see this spilling onto the youth.