After democracy, economy is the new challenge – Chaskalson

2012-07-12 07:07

South Africa’s political transition has shown that democracy and justice alone cannot create a peaceful, prosperous society, former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson has said.

“One of the lessons of the South African experience is that whilst democracy and the rule of law may be pre-conditions for a more equitable society, they are not in themselves sufficient to achieve the goal of a peaceful and thriving community,” he said yesterday.

Chaskalson was speaking at the 25th conference of the International Association for Conflict Management in Stellenbosch.

“Equally important is the need for development and an economy that provides work and hope for all who need it.”

Chaskalson, who served as the first president of the Constitutional Court, said the country was no doubt a far better place than under apartheid, but was beset by profoundly difficult problems.

“There is still widespread poverty, landlessness and unemployment and great disparities between rich and poor, most often, though not entirely determined by colour, which is a legacy of apartheid.

“There are troubling signs of instability in a high crime rate, increasing resort to violent protest and reports of corrupt practices.”

He said pressure on the government to deal with these economic and social problems was mounting, but he believed the Constitution provided the framework for it to do so.

“They are issues ... that pose enormous problems for our society and require us to confront them with the same commitment that we confronted apartheid.”

The conference concludes on Saturday.

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