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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Human Rights and Citizenship in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Author:Williams, John
Periodical:Critical Arts: A Journal of Media Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
human rights
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02560240185310061
Abstract:If the lack of human rights in apartheid South Africa was a unifying cause of the struggle against institutionalized racism then, in the democratic order since 1994, the interpretation and safeguarding of such rights has become a cause celebre in the construction and promotion of an inclusive citizenship. Indeed the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, Act 108, provides a Bill of Rights, entrenching and affirming democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. The foregoing constitutional provisions imply that a new citizenship has to be forged in postapartheid South Africa. Even so, as borne out of the South African Human Rights Commission and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, amongst others, the construction of such a new citizenship appears to be a daunting task as the politics of identity, the multidimensionality of development and the trajectory of social change seem to complicate both the form and the substance of overall transformation of South African society. In this regard, the paper highlights several issues. First, the dominant discourse on the new South Africa is predicted upon a declarative citizenship, not an assertive citizenship, in that elected officials (presumably) representing the citizenry declare the noble ideals of an inclusive society by representing their specific constituencies in all spheres of government, as opposed to the electorate participating directly in all levels of decisionmaking in all spheres of government. Second, citizenship as encoded in the Constitution is based on the premise that all humans have equal access to rights, in contradistinction to the prevailing reality that only those with the financial wherewithal can have their rights enforced. Bibliogr., sum.