The principles and values encompassed in the Preamble of the South African Constitution state that we as South Africans, as a starting point in our quest to embracing democracy, need to:


“recognise the injustices of the past, …heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights…”

In essence, this means that the purpose of democratic transformation in South Africa is to ultimately create a society based on social justice. In order to achieve social change, dignity, equality, and the advancement of human rights must serve as the cornerstone from which the envisaged society will be created and maintained.

The eventual inclusion of socio-economic rights in our final constitution is one of the implausible features that grants the rationale behind our constitution being heralded by many as the best in the world. The founding provisions state that South Africa is both a sovereign and democratic state based on the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advance of human rights.

Transformative constitutionalism gives rise to a more holistic definition of social justice, and this means that social justice can only truly exist when the quality of life of all individuals has improved to a point whereby the potential of each person is unlocked.

The South African National Planning Commission (NPC) highlighted the key challenges facing South Africa as follows:

  • Too few South Africans in work.
  • The quality of school education for most black people is sub standard.
  • Poorly located and inadequate infrastructure limits social inclusion and faster economic growth.
  • Spatial challenges continue to marginalise the poor.
  • South Africa’s growth path is highly resource-intensive and hence unsustainable.
  • The ailing public health system confronts a massive disease burden.
  • The performance of the public service is uneven.
  • Corruption undermines state legitimacy and service delivery.
  • South Africa remains a divided society.

From this it is evident that there is a strong correlation between equality and freedom. More so, it can be concluded that social justice in South Africa will only be achieved once issues of poverty and inequality have been redressed, through the constant progressive realisation in making resources available for South African citizens to enjoy their socio-economic rights.

Phiwe is currently working on his articles as part of his Masters of Law degree through the University of Cape Town. He graduated with a Bachelors of Law from the University of Fort Hare where he was elected as the Chairperson of the Law Students Council and President of the Rowing Club. He participated in the 8th All African International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition, Inaugural International Supplemental Instruction Leader Student Exchange at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and MultiChoice Fort Hare Inkwenkwezi Trust mentorship programme. He received a University of Fort Hare Leadership and Service Award, and was awarded the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary to the United Kingdom. He is currently a member of the UCT Rowing Club, Legal Welfare Community Organisation, Students for Law and Social Justice and the Social Equality Leadership School. Phiwe intends to be admitted as an Attorney by the end of 2014, and to build a library and computer lab for the school at his rural home in the Eastern Cape by April 2013.

The South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP) is a six-month leadership, service and professional development program that recruits 15 high-potential South African students from three top South African universities each year in pursuit of its mission to inspire, develop and support a diverse new generation of emerging South African leaders from multiple disciplines.

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