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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Politicsweb by William Saunderson-Meyer.]

It’s not yet the full-blown stench that makes the stomach heave. It’s just an occasional malodorous whiff, subtly alerting us to something going off. In this case, it’s the first signals that the most important aspect of South Africa’s post-apartheid democracy, an evenhanded and independent judicial system, is under some toxic strain. A few rot spots are beginning to show.

This comes as a shock to many. After lifetimes under a legal system codified to enforce racial privilege, South Africans became quite giddy with excitement at the introduction of a Constitution that embraced every conceivable mechanism to protect human rights. Never again, was the mantra.

It was especially the establishment of the so-called Chapter Nine institutions — specifically the office of the Public Protector (PP) and that of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) — that held great promise in foiling any attack on democracy. International jurists hailed these institutions as a step that elevated SA’s Constitution above most, making it, as we are constantly reminded, “one of the best constitutions in the world”.

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South Africa at a Glance
58 780 000 (mid 2019 estimate)
4.1% y/y in March 2020 (CPI) & +4.5 y/y in February 2020 (PPI)
-1.4% q/q (4th quarter of 2019)
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