07/08/2017 06:30 SAST | Updated 07/08/2017 06:30 SAST

Mongane Wally Serote: This Is The Constitution's Greatest Test

MP's represent us. They must do the right thing and honour that contract.

President Jacob Zuma and Baleka Mbete as the ANC's Centenary Flame returns to Luthuli House on October 1, 2012, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Cornel van Heerden/ Foto24/ Gallo Images/ Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma and Baleka Mbete as the ANC's Centenary Flame returns to Luthuli House on October 1, 2012, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Constitution is a contract between South Africans. It cannot be violated. Through it, we have committed to building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous nation. When the people of our country elect their representatives – MP's – they are saying to the whole world that they are the nation's representatives.

We stand watch, through our votes, to ensure MP's represent us correctly. In other words, when the best or the worst happens, we expect that these people – our MP's – will defend us. We expect them to act in our best interests.

We have agreed to a contract with these MP's to improve people's quality of life and to defend the Constitution. Twenty-one years after we adopted this contract, which is informed by all the ideals, values and principles which we fought for, we are now in front of its greatest test.

Will the people whom we say represent us uphold and defend our great Constitution? Will they uphold that which we were ready to give everything for, including the last thing we have: our life? This is indeed the gravest test we have faced since the struggle for our country and our humanity.

The vote MP's will cast on Tuesday will determine which direction we take as a country. It must be the direction determined by our Constitution. MP's must not deviate from the ideals, traditions, culture, history and principles of the South African national contract.

That contract is the supreme law of our country and every South African is bound by it. The crucial question which must be asked now is: How did we arrive at this juncture? How did we arrive at a point where MP's are asked to consider whether the president is fit to continue executing his constitutional mandate?

Major political change is coming. It is imperative that the Constitution is upheld. The Constitutional Court was very clear when it outlined what the speaker's role should be when faced with matters such as these. She is enjoined by law to ensure that MP's are able to decide whether or not the president is fit to carry out his duties. This she must do through an open or secret ballot. She must be impartial and ensure that MP's can vote freely and fairly, without intimidation or fear.

The veterans and stalwarts of the ANC reiterates its call for a national consultative conference and remains committed to saving the ANC. Dramatic political changes are coming, for better or for worse. We must ensure that the Constitution is upheld, whatever happens.

** Serote is an acclaimed poet and writer. He is a former ANC MP and spent nine months in solitary confinement under apartheid.