Black Lawyers Association

Address by Premier Hazel Jenkins at the occasion of the Black Lawyers Association National General Meeting,

Kimberley, 23 May 2009

Programme Director
President of the Black Lawyers Association, Ms Andiswa Ndoni Esteemed Members o the Black Lawyers Association
Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for the honour of inviting me to this important occasion of your National General Meeting.
Allow me, first and foremost, on behalf of the people of the Northern Cape, to welcome all of you present
here to our beautiful Province the Northern Cape.

I am certain that this National General Meeting will give you an opportunity to engage in constructive discussions
and deliberate on a number of pertinent matters that will continue to build and strengthen your organization.

I have no doubt that your deliberations will be fruit full and in line with your historic mandate which seeks to
ensure that all enjoy equal human rights, promote the rule of law ,have access to justice for all and to deepen our democracy.

Our government remains committed to the transformation of a just and equitable society and the achievement
of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms an enshrined in our constitution. Central to this
country's constitution are the issues of human rights and dignity. In order to address the legacy of injustice and to
create a society based on human rights, redressing the entrenched inequalities and restoring the dignity to our
people is a non-negotiable imperative.

We resolved to deepen democracy and further strengthen our structures of governance to make them
more responsive to the needs of our people. We are determined to build a strong and vibrant society.

Programme Director,

Your National General Meeting is taking place not long after our historic April 22 National Elections which renewed
our mandate as the ANC to serve the interest and aspirations of all the people of South Africa.
This election was an important milestone in the country because it demonstrated the capacity and willingness of our
people to work together across a large section of the population and all sectors of society.

The ANC has followed the tradition of popular participation in putting together its programme for the next five years,
through extensive consultative process involving Professional bodies, Business sector, Religious bodies, sport fraternity,
traditional leaders, labour movements and reaching out to each and every section of our society.
All our people have participated in the process of changing our country for the better; I am sure some of you
gathered here have also made your input into the ANC manifesto.

The overwhelming electoral victory have now afforded us the opportunity to put in place an efficient and effective system
of governance empowered to serve the people. Build an inclusive people's contract to transform as many of our people as possible
into conscious agents of change for the construction of a winning and humane society, acting in unity and uniting in action.
We will intensify our offensive to tackle the twin challenges of underdevelopment and poverty



Ladies and gentlemen,

I was requested to speak on the topic the empowerment of black professionals particularly the legal profession.
Firstly Professionals play an important role in any society and are thus the catalyst and agents of change and transformation.
They are a critical sector that influences the direction that any society must take and add significant value to the issues of
good governance and transformation.

It is an undeniable truth that despite the many pieces of enabling and empowering legislation that has been enacted
since 1994, many black and female legal professionals continue to face prejudice and marginalization in the work place.
Black people including professionals, continued to be disadvantaged in the corporate and in the economy at large.

If we are to eliminate prejudice, equality is a value that needs to be inculcated, shared and upheld by the entire legal
professional society and men and women alike. Access justice and legal systems relates to the achievement of gender
equality i.e., equality between women and men to be recognized as a human right, a democratic and economic imperative.

The ANC government has since the liberation of our country in 1994 passed a number of laws and policies to empower
the broad spectrum of our society including professionals. With the sweeping socio economic changes taking place currently
in our country, we expect that professionals must take leadership and ownership of the transformation process in especially
the legal profession.

It is on this basis that we have taken initiatives for historically disadvantaged individuals and previously marginalized groups
and communities to free their potential so that they can participate in the mainstream of society and contribute to the
building of a nation on the move to prosperity

The sector must work with government to bring about fundamental change. As government we can create certain frameworks,
but it is through your interaction with each other and the mechanism you create that will help you deal with the challenges.

We have much work to do to strengthen and increase access to the institutions of democracy, especially parliament, legislatures
and the judiciary, so that they serve ordinary South Africans.

We must all put shoulder to the wheel to ensure that we fundamentally transform the legal system to serve the interest of the
majority and not the few. In the same breath the process of transformation of the South African legal system and making more
reflective of this country's demographics is a constitutional imperative that is non-negotiable. It is a process that we are fully
committed to and will see to its proper conclusion.

The transformation and empowerment of our legal system is thus an important discussion that must be vigorously
pursuit until we redress the inequalities of the past in every sphere of our society

In recent months we have also been exposed and participated in the debate on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
We firmly respect and uphold the principle of the independence of the judiciary. However, we must also guard against the abuse
of the state legal institutions that are designed to treat all citizens equally and fairly.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We can make serious progress towards the struggle to eradicate inequality and bridge the divide in all the spheres of government if
we work together as a united force. We are all equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits as South African Citizens as
stated in our constitution.

I urge you to do more in your endeavour to transform the legal sector for the common good of all.

May I take this opportunity to wish you well in this National General Meeting. I hope your deliberations will bring your organisation closer to
your goals, and spur your members to new heights.

I also invite all those that are coming from other provinces to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of the Northern Cape Province.

 

I thank you.

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Private Bag X5016 
Kimberley 
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