Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of Law in South Africa

Two public dialogues were hosted in Cape Town on 15 June 2015 on “Democracy and the Rule of Law in South Africa”, and on 8 September 2015, on the question: “Is the South African Constitution a Paper Tiger?” The following seven key policy recommendations emerged from the two public dialogues: 1. Political parties should avoid judicializing matters that are political in nature, as this places judges under pressure to make decisions that should better be resolved through political struggle and the legislature. 2. South Africa’s government and its philanthropists should create a fund to cover legal costs for those who are unable to access justice through the courts. 3. All South Africans must take responsibility for the constitutional project in order for it to succeed. 4. Local government should respond better to the developmental needs of communities across the country in order to minimise violent protests. 5. South Africa’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration – established in April 2015 – must ensure that the human rights of foreign nationals living in South Africa are protected, as required by the constitution. 6. All three branches of government – the executive, legislature, and judiciary – need to play their part in ensuring that South Africa’s democracy continues to be guided by the constitution. They must uphold the supremacy of the constitution, and respect the independence of all three branches of government. 7. Civil society should continue to play its watchdog role in keeping constitutionalism alive in South Africa through advocacy, litigation, and public debate.