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South Africa and the case for re-negotiating the peace

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Abstract

ABSTRACT Author: Pierre du Toit Institution: Stellenbosch University pdt@sun.ac.za Title: South Africa and the case for re-negotiating the peace Section: Comparative Political Institutions (101) Panel: Do Democracies Change? (526) South Africa is often recognized as an outstandingly successful case of regime change within the ranks the Third Wave of democratization. It represents an instance of a negotiated transition which not only constituted a successful peace process, but also inaugurated a new democratic regime. Yet, after 16 years of democracy few, if any analysts are prepared to categorize South Africa as a consolidated democracy. Many instances of state weakness, policy failure and social decay can be listed as indicators of an unconsolidated democracy. At the centre of this turbulence is the negotiated constitution which emerged from the all-party talks in 1993. Questions relating to the adequacy of this regime arise: • Was the process of negotiation (1885-1993) and hence its outcome in the form of the 1993 constitution inherently flawed, and has the past 16 years revealed these flaws whenever the regime met serious policy challenges? • Has this framework become an obstacle to consolidation, having been negotiated with a view to addressing conflicts and problems that have long been dealt with, making current arrangements for conflict settlement redundant?; • And/or has the constitution become obsolete, with a new context where the then salient policy problems have been superseded by new ones, requiring solutions not yet thought of, with new constitutional rules? • If so, what are the specific deficiencies, and with what specific new rules should these be remedied? • And through what process should this re-negotiation proceed? The paper aims to work towards an analytical framework within which these questions can be considered. The concept of constitutional endurance, as explicated by Elkins, Ginsberg and Melton (2009) provides an extensive comparative empirical base for tracking the conditions which effect the survival or demise of constitutions. In addition, use is made of the concept of post-settlement settlements as outlined by Du Toit (2003) as an additional starting point to develop this analytical framework. The case of South Africa is used throughout to illustrate specific context-related matters, and reference is also made to comparative examples, especially those of Lebanon and Malaysia.