n Law, Democracy & Development - Public participation : what has the Constitutional Court given the public? : forum

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



The Freedom Charter declared many years ago that "(t)he People shall govern". When the constitutional drafters devised a legislative system for our democracy they might have had this slogan in mind. South Africa's constitutional democracy is representative and participatory in its nature. The representative aspect embraces multi-party democracy, achieved through regular elections based on a common voters' roll and proportional representation; the participatory aspect goes further than regular elections every five years in that it guarantees involvement of each citizen in public life in between elections. These two aspects should not be seen as conflicting with each other but as complementary. To this extent public participation is linked to the right to political participation. The right to political participation in terms of international law has expressly recognised the right to participate in public life. In other words, public participation in the legislative process is an integral part of any democracy.

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