Parliament must embrace its connection with voters and the public voice, Justice Albie Sachs said on Monday.
"We felt that [including the] phrase in the Constitution about the public being involved was not simply the public can sit upstairs and watch the proceedings and the public can make its representations to the portfolio committee," he said at the opening of the People's Power, People's Parliament conference in Cape Town.
" It meant an ongoing, active connection and association [between Parliament and the public]".
He said the Constitution was not just a document that was chosen because it looked good and seemed to respond to the needs of everybody.
It was built on dialogue, a product of six years of "labour, breakdowns, mass action, massacres, low-grade civil war".
"People forget how difficult it was then... but in the end we looked into each others' eyes, we found a way forward, we managed to resolve the tactical problems."
Sachs said democratic relationships were not akin to fairy tales.
"A democratic relationship is not like sleeping beauty that goes to sleep for five years, and kiss it before elections it wakes up and then goes to sleep again," he said.
The relationship between Parliament and the public should be organic and interactive.
"This is particularly important for civil society and minority groups that mightn't be all that well represented in this country's political power; that they should also have an ongoing, active voice and to make them feel that this is our Parliament and we are involved."
Sachs said the increased scepticism around Parliament being a body in "which deals were done" was not a South African phenomenon but a universal one.
He said South Africa's model should be viewed upon as one full of potential and power, a model that other countries could successfully copy.