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Albie Sachs urges South Africans to protect the country’s democracy

Retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs said South Africans must ensure that those in power didn't abuse their power.

Nomboniso Gasa and retired ConCourt  judge Albie Sachs at the 10th annual Ahmed Kathrada lecture in Newtown, Johannesburg on 16 October 2019. Picture: Twitter/Kathrada Foundation

JOHANNESBURG – Retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs said he was not worried about politicians endangering South Africa’s future because the country has strong legal and Chapter 9 institutions.

Sachs was speaking in Newton in Johannesburg on Tuesday night, where he delivered the keynote address at the 10th annual Ahmed Kathrada Foundation lecture.

Justice Sachs said to protect the country's democracy, certain institutions were created.

He said South Africans must ensure that those in power didn't abuse their power.

“We have a lively open press, we have a strong judiciary, we have a strong civil society. I can say what I like."

The retired judge said South Africa was a free and open democratic society, something he described as an achievement.

“Our presidents don’t step down because tanks go in the streets, but because there has been a democratic vote. This is an enormous achievement. It’s an achievement that enables us to make other achievements.”

He said the country must continue to work towards nation building because it was a long process that would last for generations to come.

Sachs also said South Africa owed a great debt to Mozambique for its liberation.

He said Mozambique’s late President Samora Machel paid with his life in the fight against apartheid.

The retired judge said South Africa wouldn't have defeated the apartheid regime without the help of its neighbour, adding that Machel believed that for a nation to rise, the tribe must die.

“For the South African nation to live, Samora had to die. He was on a mission to get the frontline states to step up the struggle against apartheid. That plane was brought down and Mozambique lost its president because of the South African freedom struggle.”

Sachs said South Africans took their freedom for granted.

“We’ve had six democratic elections; free and fair – and we take it for granted. They used to say one man, one vote, once.”

The former Constitutional Court judge said the country must learn to unite and not let their difference divide them.

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