Black economic empowerment in South Africa : a perspective from Jürgen Habermas's theory of law and democracy

Hugo, Anneline (2007-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Socio-economic transformation has been a central point on the agenda of the South African government since 1994. The deeply embedded inequality that is portrayed by socio-economic statistics of the time, justifies this mandate. The Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) strategy is meant to play a key role as an integrated legislative approach towards transformation. However, BEE is an emotionally laden subject that, as a strategy for transformation, attracts criticism from many different sources. The complexities surrounding BEE warrant us to ask whether the current approach towards socio-economic transformation (through BEE) is a legitimate way to address the problems of inequality, unemployment and poverty that the country face. Jürgen Habermas’s theory of democratic law provides us with a theoretical framework that we can use to understand the dynamics of BEE as instrument for transformation. According to Habermas, law can work as a mechanism of social integration in a democratic country like South Africa. Habermas argues that social integration can only take place through law if it is factual and normative at the same time. This also applies to BEE as a law in South Africa. For a law to be accepted as normative, it needs to be seen as legitimate, thus morally and ethically acceptable. These are all prerequisites for the legislated BEE strategy in order to enable social integration. The linkage of Habermas’s theory of democratic law and the practical example of BEE legislation in South Africa, leads to a better understanding of the complexities that surrounds the issue of institutionalised and legislated socio-economic transformation. It does not necessarily provide infallible solutions, but important insight into the current problems.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert 1994 is sosio-ekonomiese transformasie ‘n sentrale punt op die agenda van die Suid-Afrikaanse regering. Hierdie mandaat word geregverdig deur die diepliggende ongelykheid wat sigbaar is in die ontwikkelingstatistiek van die tyd. Die Swart Ekonomiese Bemagtiging (SEB) –strategie is veronderstel om ‘n sleutelrol te speel as ‘n geïntegreerde wetlike benadering tot transformasie. SEB is egter ‘n emosioneel-belaaide onderwerp wat as strategie vir transformasie kritiek ontlok van baie verskillende oorde. Die kompleksiteite rondom SEB regverdig ons om te vra of die huidige benadering tot sosio-ekonomiese transformasie (deur SEB) die mees legitieme manier is om die probleme van ongelykheid, werkloosheid en armoede aan te spreek wat die land in die gesig staar. Jürgen Habermas se teorie vir demokratiese regspraak dien as ‘n teoretiese raamwerk wat ons kan inspan om die dinamika van SEB as instrument vir transformasie te verstaan. Na aanleiding van Habermas kan wet werk as ‘n meganisme vir sosiale integrasie in ‘n demokratiese land soos Suid-Afrika. Habermas verduidelik verder dat sosiale integrasie net kan plaasvind deur ‘n wet as die wet terselftertyd feitelik en normatief is. Dit is ook van toepassing op SEB, as ‘n wet in Suid-Afrika. Vir ‘n wet om normatief te wees, moet dit gesien word as legitiem, dus moreel en eties aanvaarbaar. Hierdie is alles voorvereistes waaraan die wetlike SEB strategie moet voldoen om sosiale integrasie te kan bewerkstellig. Die analogie tussen Habermas se teorie vir ‘n demokratiese regstelsel en die praktiese voorbeeld van SEB in Suid-Afrika, lei tot beter begrip vir die kompleksiteite rondom die kwessie van geïnstitusionaliseerde en wetlike sosio-ekonomiese transformasie. Onfeilbare oplossings word nie noodwendig verskaf nie, maar wel insig in die huidige probleme.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/18167
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