Decolonization, Compensation and Constitutionalism: Land, Wealth and the Sustainability of Constitutionalism in Post-Apartheid South Africa
South African Journal on Human Rights (Forthcoming)
22 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 4, 2018
While there are many good reasons to be critical of the South African government and the ruling African National Congress, particularly when it comes to the failure to address the extraordinary inequalities created by apartheid and colonialism, it is not possible to understand these failures without taking cognizance of both the historical legacies and the conditions of the country's democratic transition. This approach to understanding the process of decolonization in South Africa is especially important at a time when some political leaders, commentators and academics find it easier to lay the blame for present conditions on the choice to pursue a negotiated solution in the early 1990s rather than acknowledging the limits of that transition and seeking ways to address the continuing legacies of colonialism and apartheid today. By confronting the vast inequalities that reflect the country's historic legacies and using the political authority contained in the Constitution to do so, there is an opportunity to challenge the present failures to address these legacies and to build a common project of decolonization that might in time fulfill the 1955 Freedom Charter's promise '[t]hat South Africa belongs to all who live in it'.
Keywords: constitutionalism, decolonization, colonialism, post-colonialism, africa, south africa, land redistribution, restitution, expropriation
JEL Classification: K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation