Office of the Chief Whip
20th Anniversary of the Constitution and Human Rights Day
15 March 2017
The National Assembly of Parliament today debated the 20th Anniversary of the Constitution and Human Rights Day. Today's debate forms part of a yearlong programme celebrating 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 20 Years of the Constitution celebrations coincide with the ANC's declaration of 2017 as the Year of OR Tambo. President OR Tambo worked tirelessly to prepare for and shape our constitutional democracy. The ANC's commitment to universal human rights and constitutionalism date as far back as the early 1940s with the Africans' Claims in South Africa of 1943; the Freedom Charter of 1955; and the Harare Declaration of 1989 which all expressed a vision of a national democratic society where all enjoyed equal political and social citizenship under a constitutional democracy.
Our constitution arose out of much hard work by men and women who were members of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the then Constitutional Assembly, which was capably led by Deputy President Ramaphosa. Signed into law by President Nelson Mandela on 10 December 1996, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa officially came into operation on 04 February 1997.
The yearlong commemorative programme celebrating 20 years of our Constitution was launched on 03 March 2017 in a seminar in the National Assembly with various drafters of the Constitution in participation. This yearlong programme will include a National Constitution Heritage Trail; a NCOP Review Publication; a Special Joint Sitting Debate; a Lecture Series and Roundtable Discussions; a Documentary and a Coffee Table Book Series.
The ANC in Parliament joins South Africans in celebration of our Constitution and Democracy. We encourage all South Africans to participate in the above commemorative programmes and contribute to the deepening of our democracy. The 20 Year celebration of our Constitution is a celebration of South Africa.
ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE ANC CHIEF WHIP