This week, there was a significant birthday. Possibly the most significant birthday in the world judging by the amount of coverage it got. The English might have a public holiday for the birthday of the Queen, but no octogenarian’s longevity continues to fascinate the world quite like that of Robert Mugabe.
The spectre of Zimbabwe continues to hover in the background, just out of focus. Here’s the one big difference between us and our troubled neighbour: our Constitution. Under our Constitution, the rule of law is paramount. A Mugabe isn’t possible.
Which makes our Constitution quite important. All those rights in there make a very real difference to you every single day. Even if there’s a lot to complain about, even if you’re angry and frustrated by this country, life without our Constitution wouldn’t be very pleasant for anyone except those at the top.
This means that it’s in our interests to support the Constitution, even if we don’t like everything in it.
Why does this matter? If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you might have noticed a trend developing. The POIB, invasions of privacy, talk of how the Constitutional Court has too much power. All those talk show callers who say the Constitution is too gay, or too liberal, too this or that. The Constitutional Court interferes with the running of the country, according to an SMS to Redi Tlhabi this morning.
This is dangerous, because it all adds up to the slow and steady erosion of the document that is the cornerstone of our democracy. Remember what it was like to live under a regime with no regard for dignity and equality?
Our Constitution shares a birthday month with Robert Mugabe, and because we want to celebrate 15 years since it came into effect, we’d like you to make a public statement about why you love our Constitution here, on Facebook or on Twitter.
We’re asking you to make a public statement because it’s only when we do things for others to see – and we see others doing the same – that they are meaningful. It’s important that people are seen to support something. Without public support across the board – not just the desktop activists – the Constitution is vulnerable. If people don’t understand something, they won’t care about it, and if they don’t care about it, they won’t fight for it if it ever comes under threat.
That’s why it matters that you tell the world why you love our Constitution. Caring about it isn’t enough. You need to show that you care.
Two minutes to write a short message isn’t asking a lot (we’ve even made it easy for you by giving reasons to love our Constitution here). If we can vote for Idols, if we can rustle up no less than 3.6 million votes for Table Mountain, surely we can express our support for something that makes a massive difference in our lives every day.
Ignorance and apathy are our enemies.
It’s time that we, the people did something about it.
PS From the Daily Sun to Gareth Cliff, we’d like to thank everyone who has supported this campaign to date. To those that haven’t, even though they routinely talk about threats to the supremacy of the Constitution, what can we say? We’re surprised. This campaign will not work unless there is hype around it, and we can’t do it on our own.