n Journal for Juridical Science - Legal evaluation of affirmative action in South Africa

Volume 26, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-252X



With its equality jurisprudence only in its infancy stage, affirmative action will provide a difficult challenge to the Constitutional Court. Employment equity and affirmative action, like other projects of social transformation translated into law, need to be balanced with individual and collective needs of security, continuity and national integration. The specific challenge facing the court will be to integrate its approach to affirmative action with its endorsement of the notion of substantive equality and the normative standards it has developed for the determination of unfair discrimination. It is submitted that the latter do provide at least a rudimentary focus, which is sensitive and open-ended enough to accommodate the complex array of competing interests at stake in affirmative action disputes. In this article, the implications of the court's equality approach for affirmative action are considered, with reference to some pertinent issues, such as the applicable standard for the constitutional review of affirmative action, and the fairness and proportionality of affirmative action measures (including the problem of the over- or underinclusiveness of affirmative action). The present state of South African case law on the subject is considered, with comparative references to approaches adopted in other jurisdictions.

Terwyl die Grondwetlike Hof se regspraak oor gelykheid nog in die beginfase daarvan verkeer, sal regstellende aksie vir die hof 'n moeilike uitdaging stel. Billike indiensneming en regstellende aksie, soos alle projekte van sosiale transformasie wat regtens afdwingbaar gemaak word, moet in ewewig gebring word met kompeterende belange soos die sekuriteitsen kontinuïteitsbehoeftes van individue en instansies en die noodsaak van nasionale integrasie. die spesifike uitdaging vir die hof is om die benadering wat by regstellende aksie gevolg word, te integreer met die hof se onderskrywing van die idee van substantiewe gelykheid en die algemene normatiewe standaarde wat die hof in verband met onbillike diskriminasie ontwikkel het. Dit word aan die hand gedoen dat laasgenoemde ten minste 'n rudimentêre basis daarstel wat in beginsel oop en sensitief genoeg is om die wye spektrum van kompeterende belange wat by regstellende aksie op die spel is, te kan akkommodeer. In hierdie artikel word die implikasies van die hof se benadering tot gelykheid en onbillike diskriminasie vir regstellende aksie oorweeg, met verwysing na 'n aantal pertinente aangeleenthede, soos die gepaste grondwetlike standaard vir die geregtelike hersiening van regstellende aksie, asook die billikheid en proporsionaliteit van regstellende aksie maatreëls (insluitende die kwessie van onder- en oor-inklusiewe regstellende aksie). die huidige stand van die Suid-Afrikaanse regspraak word oorweeg, met vergelykende verwysings na ander jurisdiksies.

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