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Balancing independence and accountability: The role of chapter 9 institutions in South Africa’s constitutional democracy

In 1994 South Africa emerged from a racially divided and oppressive past which disrespected human rights and the most basic tenets of the rule of law. The new democratically elected government inherited a state which was ‘farcically bureaucratic, secretive and unresponsive to the basic needs of the majority of its citizens’ (Ad Hoc Committee 2007: 3). Most state institutions had little or no credibility, were profoundly distrusted by the majority of the people and were not accountable in any credible manner, either to courts or to one another. For some constitutional negotiators, it was therefore clear that transforming the South African society from an intensely oppressive into an open and democratic society would require more than a change in the system of government. It was necessary to create a set of credible independent institutions to strengthen constitutional democracy and to promote an open and accountable government, steeped in the disciplining paradigm of human rights.

Related Subject(s): Democracy and Governance
Countries: South Africa
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