Africa

Africa: GNU Negotiations – SA’s Constitution Provides a Framework for Political, Economic and Social Policies


If President Ramaphosa’s requirements for the establishment of a government of national unity are taken seriously, the Constitution must be the starting point for a consensus between parties.

There is no shortage of advice as to the tasks that await a government of national unity (GNU) in the event that one is formed by the end of the week. Apart from the statements of various political parties, the public discourse is awash with the views of libertarians, adapters of the Washington consensus on the one hand and Stalinist-type advocates mixed with a dash of populist identity politics on the other.

However, if President Cyril Ramaphosa’s requirements for the establishment of a GNU are taken seriously, the Constitution must be the starting point for a consensus between parties who, ideological differences notwithstanding, are willing to be part of such a government.

And the Constitution does provide a framework for political, economic and social policy. In the first place, it promotes the values of transparency and accountability of government.

To borrow from South Africa’s finest academic public lawyer of his generation, the late Professor Etienne Mureinik, the Constitution was designed to promote a culture of justification over a history of a culture of authority. The exercise of public and private power which affects significant segments of the citizenry must be subject to legal scrutiny in respect of the justification of…



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