Many countries have their own special constitutions that comes out of their own unique history. For example, there may have been a war or revolution.
Our country has a recent history of apartheid and people were treated extremely unequally. Black people were not allowed to vote and were oppressed. Women of all races were treated as unequal to men. Being gay was a crime. The former Nationalist government forced all children to have a Christian education. So it is not surprising that our Constitution today stresses dignity, justice and equality for everyone. It says we must build a society that is open and democratic.
The South African Constitution is not like other ordinary Acts passed in Parliament. It was passed by a special body called the Constitutional Assembly. The Constitutional Court had to certify the Constitution before it could be made law. It had to ensure that the final version of the Constitution followed and included certain constitutional principles. One of these principles was that our Constitution had to have a Bill of Rights.
Our Constitution aims to:
- Heal the hurts and injustices of our past and unite South Africans
- Build a fair and democratic society
- Create a better life for all South Africans, in which each person has the opportunity to reach their potential.