oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - ‘With no sanction for lying’ — recollecting the potential of a few dispossessing words

Volume 9 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



1. These were strange words, for which there was little time and about which there was not much to say. One week before the 1994 election, the election, South Africa’s Mail & Guardian (backed by BP Southern Africa and the Anglo American Corporation) presented its readers with an “easy-to-read guide” on the new Constitution—“our document,” it declared, one “forged for our specific needs on the anvil of tough and lengthy negotiations.” Such a guide was necessary, the paper suggested, as it was difficult to find a copy of this “immensely important document” that “gives ordinary people powers, rights, protections that they have never had before.” Noting that the Constitution had yet only been published in two languages and launched without the benefit of a media campaign, the paper contended that it was a “vital document that is too little understood”. Its terms, details, and ambiguities—the “Constitution is not perfect”—needed to be grasped by “ordinary citizens”.1

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