1887

n Historia - The Freedom Charter @ 60 : rethinking its democratic qualities

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Abstract

The Freedom Charter is revisited as a democratic document with specific qualities deriving from the South African history of oppression. The object is not to advance the document as having obviously worthy qualities or for any partisan purpose. The aim is to unpack the meanings of its democratic qualities, found in the repeated reference to "the people" and especially in the clause entitled "The People Shall Govern!" The paper recognises that this clause may have been equated with universal suffrage at the time of its adoption in 1955, but the experiences in the 1980s "popular power" period amplified its meaning to incorporate the notion of popular, direct democracy. This coincides with the original meaning of the word "democracy", as propounded by Aristotle. At the same time it is argued that popular democracy is not necessarily incompatible with representative democracy, especially if one breathes an emancipatory meaning into the notion of "representation".

Die Vryheidsmanifes word opnuut besoek as 'n demokratiese dokument met eiesoortige eienskappe wat vanuit Suid-Afrika se geskiedenis van verdrukking voortspruit. Dit is nie daarop gemik om die dokument te loof as iets wat vanselfsprekend waarde dra nie, ook nie om bepaalde belange te bevorder nie. Die doel is om die betekenis van die dokument se demokratiese karaktertrekke te ontrafel, naamlik in die herhaalde verwysing na "the people" (die mense) en veral in die klousule getiteld "The People Shall Govern!" (Die mense sal regeer!). Die artikel neem kennis van die feit dat die klousule ten tyde van sy aanvaarding in 1955 gelyk gestel is aan algemene stemreg. Die belewenis van die 1980's, wat gekenmerk is deur 'n tydperk wat bekend gestaan het as "popular power" (populêre mag), het egter die klousule se betekenis verskerp en dit verbreed om die begrip van 'n populêre, direkte demokrasie in te sluit. Terselfdertyd word daar aangevoer dat populêre demokrasie nie noodwendig strydig is met verteenwoordigende demokrasie nie, veral nie as mens 'n bevrydende betekenis by die begrip "verteenwoordiging" inweef nie.

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/content/hist/60/2/EJC183144
2015-01-01
2016-12-06
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