Fault lines in South African democracy: Continuing crisis of inequality and injustice
South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy has become something of a paradigm in matters related to post conflict transition, and to transition from an authoritarianism to democracy. In 1994, apartheid gave way to a much more democratic regime with much less bloodshed than was feared. South Africa's reconciliation process was exemplary in more than one respect. The country prides itself on one of the best constitutions, with probably the most progressive bill of rights, anywhere. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) launched in the wake of the 1994 elections that brought Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC), at the head of of an alliance of parties that was not a technical necessity, given the margin of the victory of the ANC, .... the promise of a relatively rapid structural transformation for he post apartheid economy and society, at least for some time. The personality of Nelson Mandela, whose moral authority is unrivalled, further strengthened this image of an exceptional South Africa. The real picture is however much more complex than the celebratory account of South Africa's transformation process would have it. This paper is precisely about the complexity of the transformation process going on in South Africa. Eight years on, it is still too early for a real assessment of the experiment, but eight years is a long enough period for the tensions, dilemmas, contradictions, paradoxes and some of the changes to begin to manifest themselves. Professor Fred Hendrick's discussion of the fault-lines of South African Democracy gives the full measure of the tensions, dilemmas, and paradoxes involves in the transformation of South Africa. Apartheid was more than formal discrimination along racial lines. It was an extremely oppressive system based on deeply rooted social and economic inequalities. The challenges involved in transforming such a system are enormous, requiring formidable struggles on the part of those fighting for justice, human rights, democracy and better living conditions. This paper is the text of a keynote address delivered at a conference on "Africa, a Future beyond the Croses and Conflict" Transition, the State and Civil Society Programme in Helsinki in April 2002. The central theme of the conference was the challenges of building democratic governance systems in the post-conflict societies of Sub-Saharan Africa. Governance issues are often among, if not the most important, root causes of conflict, and much of the effort at post-conflict social and political transformation is about establishing and consolidating more inclusive, just and accountable political systems. We would like to thank the Finish Government for enabling us to hold this conference in Helsinki in conjunction with its own' Africa 2002 - People and Development Event' the participants of the conference for their very useful contributions, and Professor Hendricks for revising and expanding the text of his keynote address to the conference.