The limits of political development and constitutionalism in South Africa
Van Riet, Gideon
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The article investigates political development and constitutionalism in postapartheid South Africa by focusing on two general features of this society. These are firstly the enduring prevalence of violence defined broadly. The second feature is the particular democratic deficit manifested in the politics of professionalism associated with the New Public Management (NPM) informed developmental state. The article interprets these two trends as characteristic of ruptures and continuities with the apartheid state. It scrutinizes the underlying assumptions of political development and constitutionalism and critiques both as ideals for the post-apartheid state. It is concluded that political development and constitutionalism, as they have manifested in post-apartheid South Africa, are insufficient in alleviating the structural violence which characterizes the everyday for millions of South Africans. Ordinary citizens must obtain greater access to the decision-making processes in which they are currently not meaningfully included through contemporary developmental practices. Such inclusion would serve both as an end in itself and as a means towards greater two-directional integration between marginalized citizens and dominant processes of material and symbolic production and consumption. At the same time, constitutionalism, by enshrining a relatively inflexible approach to property rights, is impotent in the face of persistent and increasing material inequalities.