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Accountability and the Role of Independent Constitutional Institutions in South Africa's Post-Apartheid Constitutions

Item

Title

Accountability and the Role of Independent Constitutional Institutions in South Africa's Post-Apartheid Constitutions

Creator

Date

2015

Bibliographic Citation

60 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 153 (2015-2016)

Abstract

South Africa's post-apartheid constitutional order is characterized by an abiding tension, between a popular, democratically elected, ruling party ' the political system might best be described as a unipolar democracy ' and a constitutional promise of democratic accountability. Structurally the question of accountability is straddled between parliament, which bears the traditional legislative role of overseeing the executive in addition to law-making, and a range of independent institutions that emerged from the particular history of South Africa's democratic transition. Furthermore, as a constitutional democracy the courts, and the Constitutional Court in particular, are charged with determining the allocation of constitutional authority and resolving conflicts that might be brought to the courts as different institutions struggle to ensure that there is legal accountability for governmental failures as well as individual malfeasance. This article explores the relationship between democracy and accountability in this particular context and argues that what is significant here is the attempt to institutionalize a system of checks and balances that neither relies on a strict or formal separation of powers nor does it fragment power to the extent that paralyzes governance. Instead, it seeks to provide a constitutional system of governance in which there are multiple sites of power and authority to which political and social groups in conflict may repeatedly turn in their attempts to be both heard and to protect their interests or achieve their often irreconcilable goals.

SSRN URL

Keywords

South Africa Constitution
Accountability
Separation of Powers
Public Protector
Ombudsman
Chapter 9 Institutions
Implementation
Corruption
Comparative Law