DOI: 10.5176/2251-3809_LRPP17.8

Authors: Melvin LM Mbao


This paper interrogates some aspects of South Africa’s nascent constitutionalism, from the birth of constitutional democracy in 1994 to the present. The central pith of the paper is that South Africa’s transition to a non-racial, multiparty democracy --- which was almost universally acclaimed as a model of political rapprochement, seems to be imploding, with the centre not holding anymore. Evidence of this is everywhere including a torrent of virulent and scurrilous attacks on the integrity of the judiciary; wilful disobedience of court orders by the executive; undermining of institutions set up by the Constitution to safeguard democracy; increasingly violent service delivery protests and violent student protests under the #Fees must fall storming parliament in Cape Town and the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the citadel of political power in the country. In the premises, South Africa’s ‘exceptionalism’ can no longer be taken for granted. In a sense, the country needs to recommit itself to the founding values of the 1994 constitutional project or compact, a new beginning animated by the ideals of constitutionalism, the rule of law and a supreme constitution.

Keywords: Accountability, Constitutionalism, constitutional democracy, the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution.


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