Transition to Democracy

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CRITICALLY ASSESSING SOUTH AFRICA’S
TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY

By

By Zaahir Samodien

Date: 20 April 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. BACKGROUNDPage 1

2. ASSETS SINCE TRANSITIONPage 1

1. Deepening of democracyPage 1

2. GovernancePage 1

3. Building of the EconomyPage 2

4. International / African PartnershipsPage 3

5. Social ImprovementsPage 4

6. TourismPage 5

3. LIABILITIES SINCE TRANSITIONPage 5

1. Increase in Absolute PovertyPage 5

2. UnemploymentPage 6

3. Crime and CorruptionPage 7

4. HIV /AIDSPage 7

5. LandlessnessPage 8

6. Administrative InefficienciesPage 8

4. CONCLUSIONPage 9

5. BIBLIOGRAPHYPage 9

 
1.BACKGROUND

During the rule of the apartheid government, society was divided along racial lines. The government deliberately promoted the impoverishment of the black majority and they were denied all possibility of enjoying a decent standard of living. The country was economically isolated due to international sanction. Growth had declined below 15 per annum for the period before 1994. The police and justice systems violated most human and civil rights. It was used by the state as an instrument to defend apartheid. Political violence, killings and bombings were frequent. Governance by largely defined by national security policies. The social of the country was torn apart by apartheid and social conflict. (South African Government, 2004)

2.ASSETS SINCE TRANSITION

1. Deepening of democracy

The extent and foundation of South Africa’s democracy is encapsulated in the constitution of the country. Features included in the constitution are common citizenship, equality, democratic system of government; a bill of fundamental human rights; separation of the legislature, executive and judiciary; multi party democratic and regular elections; freedom of information and open, accountable government; a non-partisan and broadly representative public service and security force. The South African constitution is also the supreme law of the land and no law can be passed which is contrary to it.

South Africa’s constitution has been praised as being one of the world’s most liberal constitutions for its strong focus on the provision of social and economic rights. (South African Government, 2004)

The bill of human rights, which is contained in the constitution, is literally the foundation of democracy in South Africa. It affords South African citizens the right to equality, human dignity, and life. It also protects the individual’s freedom of expression, religion, privacy association etc. The constitution is the ‘guardian’ of democracy in South Africa and is one of the most if not the most important benefits of political transition.

“One of the greatest achievements in the 10 years of democracy is the freedom of expression that flourishes in the country. Even the much-talked-about corruption is often uncovered by a free press that has no holy cows. The highest office in the land is not immune from examination by feisty investigative journalists, civil society organisations and even statutory agencies established for that purpose.” (Mda, Z, 2004)

2. Governance
Parliament is the legislative authority of South Africa. It has the power to make laws for the country in line with the constitution. It consists of the National assembly and the national council of provinces (NCOP). Parliamentary sessions are open to the public. Since Parliament was established in 1994, a number of steps have been taken to make it more accessible. One of these steps is the establishment of the government...
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