n Stellenbosch Law Review - Self-realisation, human rights, and separation of powers : a democracy-seeking approach - research

Volume 26 Number 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359


A democracy-seeking approach to separation of powers

I chose separation of powers as my topic because of its critical implications for the realisation of human rights, particularly social and economic rights, in progressive constitutional democracies like South Africa. Along the miraculous path they walked from the time of Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 to the final constitutional settlement of 1996, South Africans took three points of departure that were not – and probably could not have been – entirely foreseen. South Africans chose constitutional democracy instead of a majoritarian, populist model; they resolved that political democracy and socio-economic democracy are mutually constitutive and inseparable; and they embraced a transformative constitutional project to bring into being “a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights” that “[i]mprove[s] the quality of life of all citizens and free[s] the potential of each person”. These and other innovations of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (“Constitution”) coalesced to project an advanced conception of democracy, one that illuminates the social and institutional supports humans need in order to realise their potential, to selfdetermine heir lives, and to enjoy authentic experiences of freedom.

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