Transformative Constitutionalism in South Africa: 20 Years of Democracy


  • Mashele Rapatsa


This article reflects on the transformative nature of South Africa’s Constitution, looking at the past 20 years of a widely celebrated democracy. The article discusses the successful entrenchment of institutional framework and challenges facing transformative constitutionalism (TC). South Africa’s history for the better part of the 20th century reveals a variety of historical phenomena ranging from colonisation, unjust legal systems and other discriminatory practices. This bred a society of extreme imbalances and socio-economic inequalities. Post 1994, a reconstruction and development agenda became a priority, resulting in TC, a project which adopted the stance of transforming the society by redressing the injustices of the past, to create a much just society grounded in law. It has a foundational mandate to heal the wounds of the past. This entails that the societal challenges can best be addressed using the supreme law in the Constitution, as the basis for societal transformation. The 1994 dispensation has had to embrace the notion of democracy, culture of human rights according to established international norms and standards, and uphold the rule of law. While South Africa has made notable progress in many respects, the country faces new challenges that threaten the prospects of the TC. Hence, the survival of TC depends largely on the political will to address these challenges. It is also indispensable to propagate for citizenry education to foster active participation and understanding of democratic system for the sustenance of transformation ideals of the Constitution. Further that the success of TC depends on government’s absolute support for chapter 9 institutions and preserving judicial independence.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n27p887


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How to Cite

Transformative Constitutionalism in South Africa: 20 Years of Democracy. (2014). Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(27 P2), 887.