Mogoeng Mogoeng: SA inequality now ‘sharper’ post-apartheid
‘It is a shame that inequality has become sharper during our constitutional democracy than during apartheid.’
JOHANNESBURG – Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has berated the gap between the rich and poor in the country, saying it was a shame that since the advent of South Africa’s constitutional democracy in 1994, inequality had become “sharper” than during the apartheid era.
“It really is a shame that 25 years down the line we still have so many of our people suffering as much as they do. It is a shame that inequality has become sharper during our constitutional democracy than during apartheid, and check who is at the top,” Mogoeng said on Saturday while delivering the 17th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus.
This year’s theme for the lecture focused on “Constitutionalism as an Instrument for Transformation”.
The Chief Justice said South Africans had to confront the persistent challenges of racism, sexism, and tribalism, and come up with “practical steps to give practical expression to constitutionalism in South Africa”.
“The purpose of this lecture ought to be: What is wrong with our society? How did it come to be that 25 years down the line we still have people without homes, we still have racial discrimination, ethnicity, gender discrimination, and even tribalism?” Mogoeng asked.
RIGHTS UNDER CONSTITUTION
Mogoeng said the Constitution was an instrument for building a society in which nobody would have a reason to be “ashamed of his or her state of affairs”.
“Very little is going to be changed if our people are ignorant of their rights under the Constitution. You can’t fight for something you don’t know you have a right to,” Mogoeng said. “The greatest facilitator of sustained injustice is keeping people ignorant of what they are entitled to; knowledge is power,” he added.
Mogoeng said people who say South Africa's challenges shouldn’t be blamed on colonialism and apartheid were being “mischievous”.
“Most of the problems we have to deal with right now are a consequence of colonialism and apartheid. It’s critical that we never stop talking about it,” Mogoeng said. “Let us not waste time polarising society. Let’s focus on principle. Let’s confront and expose any institution and individual who practices discrimination.”
The Chief Justice also called for unity among South Africans, saying the country needed to unite “now more than ever before”. He added that unity had to be something that all citizens worry about on a daily basis.
WATCH: Chief justice delivers Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture