n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Local government indigent policies in the pursuit of social justice in South Africa through the lenses of Fraser

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 is committed to addressing the injustices of the past and to establishing a society based on social justice. This constitutional commitment is now firmly rooted both in the vision of transformative constitutionalism and the constitutional obligation on government to promote sustainable development. Scholars and jurists agree that social justice is primarily concerned with the eradication of poverty and extreme forms of inequalities in order to ensure that impoverished people have the basic needs required to function as true equals in socio-political life. The constitutional commitment to pursue social justice translates into a mandate which must be realised by the government of South Africa. As a co-responsible sphere of government, scholars and other experts share the view that local government is equally obliged to contribute towards the pursuit of social justice. The purpose of this article is to explore and critically investigate the relevance and potential of local government indigent policies in contributing towards the pursuit of social justice in South Africa through the lenses of Fraser's theory of social justice based on "participatory parity". Based on benchmarks distilled from Fraser's "affirmative" policy reform proposals, this article argues, inter alia, that, although the framework of local government indigent policies incorporates features that could enable municipalities to contribute towards advancing social justice in South Africa, their inability to adequately address the actual needs of impoverished people amounts to a denial of social recognition that is inimical to the pursuit of social justice.

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