Contending interpretations of the rule of law in South Africa

Swart, Charl (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The following study examines whether there are contending interpretations of the rule of law present within the South African democracy. The study proposes that the rule of law forms part of the societal understanding of democracy and everyday life. Rule of law is defined in terms of mental models which influence how stakeholders conceive and define institutions. Rule of law is more than a mere institutional guarantee or set of rules — rule of law is understood as a component of a specific culture of understanding. It is shown that conceptions of rule of law have a long history in western society and have been influenced by both liberal and social ideals. Contemporary conceptions of the rule of law are tightly bound with specific notions of liberal democracy. It is hypothesised that there are distinctly identifiable opinions, beliefs and views of the rule of law present in South African democracy, and that these can be systematically described at the hand of a conceptual typology. The conceptual typology developed, identifies two contending interpretations of the rule of law, namely liberal and social rule of law. Liberal rule of law emphasises the status of the individual, moral plurality and the creation and maintenance of a rule-based society of the future. In contrast, social rule of law places emphasis on the status of the community, a single communally defined conception of the moral good and places greater emphasis on righting past injustices. Other publications that address the themes of democracy and the rule of law in South Africa are also examined in order to determine whether there is congruence between the conceptual typology developed in this study and other works. It is found that the conceptual typology is congruent with other works that depict the African National Congress’s conception of democracy, equality and liberty. These congruencies validate and strengthen the conceptual typology developed in this study. The conceptual typology is subsequently applied to a specific court case, the AfriForum v Malema hate speech case. The conceptual typology is found to be sufficiently accurate in analysing contending beliefs associated with the rule of law as expressed in this court case and identifies the African National Congress’s conception of the rule of law as falling under the social rule of law and AfriForum’s conception as aligning to the liberal rule of law. It is concluded that the conceptual typology can be empirically validated at the hand of the selected case. The conceptual typology is therefore validated with other works (conceptually) and with a specific case (empirically). It is concluded that the conceptual typology provides a clear, robust, concise and comprehensive analytical description of values and beliefs associated with the rule of law in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek of daar uiteenlopende en teenstrydige interpretasies oor die oppergesag van die reg teenwoordig is binne die Suid Afrikaanse demokrasie. Die studie stel voor dat die oppergesag van die reg deel uitmaak van die wyse waarop alledaagse samelewingsinteraskies, asook demokrasie, verstaan word. Die oppergesag van die reg word gedefinieer in terme van kognitiewe modelle, wat die belanghebbende partye se konsepsie van hierdie instelling beïnvloed. Die oppergesag van die reg word dus as element van spesifieke kulturele begrip vertolk en meer as institusionele element, wat die behoud van reëls waarborg, beskou. Dit word gewys dat konsepsies van die oppergesag van die reg lang geskiedenis in westerse samelewing het en dat dit deur liberale en sosiale ideale beïnvloed is. Kontemporêre konsepsies van die oppergesag van die reg het noue bande met die liberale demokrasie. Die hipotese is dat daar afsonderlik identifiseerbare opinies, oortuigings en sieninge van die oppergesag van die reg teenwoordig is in die Suid Afrikaanse demokrasie, en dat hierdie opinies sistematies aan die hand van konseptuele tipologie beskryf kan word. Die konseptuele tipologie wat ontwikkel word in hierdie studie identifiseer twee konsepsies van die oppergesag van die reg, naamlik die liberale- en die sosiale oppergesag van die reg. Liberale oppergesag van die reg plaas klem op die status van die individu, morele pluraliteit en die skep en handhawing van reëlsgebaseerde toekomsgerigte samelewing. Hierteenoor word die sosiale oppergesag van die reg gekontrasteer wat klem plaas op die status van gemeenskap of groep, enkele kommunale gedefinieerde konsepsie van die morele doelwit voortsit terwyl die klem geplaas word op die regstelling van ongeregtighede van die verlede. Ander publikasies wat die temas van demokrasie en oppergesag van die reg in Suid Afrika aanspreek, word ook bestudeer om sodoende ooreenkomste tussen die konseptuele tipologie wat hier ontwikkel word, en die bestaande literatuur vas te stel. Daar word gevind dat die konseptuele tipologie wel ooreenkomste met ander werke, wat die African National Congress se konsepsies van demokrasie, gelykheid en vryheid bestudeer, vind. Die ooreenkomste valideer en versterk die konseptuele tipologie. Die konseptuele tipologie word ook toegepas op spesifieke hofsaak, naamlik die AfriForum v Malema haatspraaksaak. Daar word gevind dat die konseptuele tipologie wel akkurate analise van teenstrydige opinies, wat geassosieer word met die oppergesag van die reg, moontlik maak. Die African National Congress se konsepsie word in die kategorie van die sosiale oppergesag van die reg geplaas terwyl AfriForum se siening in die kategorie van die liberale oppergesag van die reg geplaas word. Dit word bevind dat die konseptuele tipologie voldoen aan empiriese validasie aan die hand van geselekteerde saak. Die konseptuele tipologie word daarvolgens gevalideer met ander werke (konseptueel), asook met spesifieke gevallestudie (empiries). Daar word tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat die konseptuele tipologie duidelike, robuuste, bondige en omvattende analitiese beskrywing van die waardes en oortuigings, wat geassosieer word met die oppergesag van reg in Suid Afrika, beskryf.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85623
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