The South African Constitutional Court’s 2018 Term

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Lawfare or Window on the Struggle for Democratic Social Transformation?

As a prelude to his case study on South Africa for this project, in a recent paper Theunis Roux shows that the Constitutional Court’s 2018 term traversed a vast array of issues – family law and maintenance matters, labour disputes and trade union turf battles, racist speech, the right to protest, refugee rights, gun control, political party funding, social security grants, land and property rights, criminal and civil procedure, local government, and customary law. 

He observes that as one reads through the judgments, an impression of contemporary South African life begins to emerge. It is a story in part of governance failures and of social transformation goals not yet realised.

But, importantly in the context of this project, it is also a story of vibrant civil society organisations demanding that government perform better, of poor and marginalised groups finding their voice and claiming their rights, and of the dedicated work that many people in the country are doing to improve the functioning of public and private institutions.  

A crucial feature of this is the way in which the Court is emerging as the moral conscience of the nation.

Download this paper

Read more background on South Africa.