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The Politics of Transition

The Hidden History of South Africa's Negotiated Settlement

By: Richard Spitz, Matthew Chaskalson
Media of The Politics of Transition
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Published: 01-05-2000
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 480
ISBN: 9781841131788
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 210 x 148 mm
RRP: £59.99
Online price : £53.99
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About The Politics of Transition

Co-publication with Witwatersrand University Press

During the early 1990s,South Africans kept a close eye on the media coverage of South Africa's negotiated transition to democracy. Likened to a soap opera by some, the negotiations featured violent interlopers, dramatic walkouts, alliances and, somehow, a fortunate conclusion in the form of the Interim Constitution and Bill of Rights. The importance of the negotiating process and the Interim Constitution itself should not be underestimated, however, in relation to their longer-term influence over the form of democracy currently enjoyed in South Africa. In this brave publication, Spitz and Chaskalson examine the politics behind the Kempton Park negotiations and the Interim Constitution, and the influence that these have had on the subsequent consolidation of a South African democracy. This book will be of importance to anyone interested in South African politics, constitutional law, democracy and human rights.


Introduction; 1. Transitions to democracy; 2. The collapse of CODESA and the return to the negotiating table; 3. The Kempton Park negotiations of 1993; Section A: Core Constitutional Issues; 4. The Technical Committee on Constitutional Issues; 5. Negotiating the process; 6. Constitutional principles; 7. Powers of the provinces; 8. Executive government; 9. Parliament and the Constitutional Assembly; 10. Local government; 11. The Constitutional Court; Section B: The COSAG parties; 12. Negotiations with the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Freedom Front; Section C: The Bill of Rights; 13. Background to the drafting of the Bill of Rights; 14. Operational provisions; 15. The equality clause; 16. Other basic rights; 17. The property clause and the question of redistribution of land; 18. Customary law and the issue of traditional leaders; Conclusion; 19. The longer-term influence of the negotiations on South Africa's democracy: The impact of the Interim Constitution on the final constitution.


Historical Background


Codesa, Collapse, and Back to Kempton Park

The Kempton Park Negotiations

The Talks

The Process

Core Constitutional Issues

The Technical Committee

Negotiating the Transition

Executive Government

The Legislature

The Powers of the Provinces

Local Government

The Constitutional Court

The Concerned South Africans Group

The COSAG Parties: Strange Bedfellows or Natural Partners?

Drafting the Interim Bill of Rights

Fundamental Human Rights: The Committees

Operational Provisions

The Equality Clause

Property, Land and Housing

Controversial Rights and Freedoms

Uncontroversial Rights and Freedoms

Traditional Law

The Interim Bill of Rights Assessed

Kempton Park and Beyond


Postscript: The Final Constitution and the Legacy of the Interim Constitution


“...provides a highly detailed account of the process leading to the Interim Constitution's enactment. Making extensive use of primary sources and in-depth interviews with some of the leading players in the negotiation and drafting processes, the authors painstakingly describe the procedures, debates, machinations and horse-trading involved.” –  Donald Nicolson, International and Comparative Law Quarterly

“...fascinating read. The text is always clear and well informed and makes balanced judgements about the points of controversy. The constitutional principle and the low politics of the constitutional negotiations are blended in insightful and valuable ways. This book will be essential reading for those wanting to understand South African constitutional developments.” –  Christopher Forsyth, Cambridge Law Journal

“A welcome addition, well written” –  John Thornton, International Journal of African Historical Studies

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