n South African Journal on Human Rights - Liberal democracy : the unintended consequence. South African constitution-writing propelled by the winds of globalisation

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Is the apparent deterioration of South African constitutionalism to be ascribed to the manner in which the Constitution was written? To understand and evaluate the acclaimed process of producing the equally applauded Constitution requires insight into the history and attitudes of the main role-players in the constitution-writing process. The role of technical advisors and visionary political leaders needs to be recognised, and the global context in which the constitutions were written must be understood, in order to explain the unlikely conversion of the country to liberal democracy in 1993. The 15 years of unfettered constitutional jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court has established a benchmark against which future growth or decline of constitutionalism may be measured. There are, however, disturbing signs pointing towards the decline of constitutionalism in a South Africa which is governed and administered by authorities who seem to have failed to internalise the precepts of the constitutional state. Some indicators useful for monitoring progress towards constitutional maturity or decline are proposed.

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