There has been much talk recently about the "inadequacy" of SA’s 1994 political transition, which led to the 1996 Constitution. It brought about political freedom, they say, but not economic freedom, as the majority of South Africans remain poor. It is important to engage with this narrative from an economic and a jurisprudential viewpoint. Prior to 1993 SA was governed under a system of parliamentary sovereignty. This meant, insofar as humanly possible, parliament could do as it pleased. There was no rule of law, but only the rule of 178 men in the House of Assembly. This system gave rise to apartheid. It had nothing to do with SA’s Roman-Dutch legal tradition, which recognises the inherent rights of all people — black and white — to be free and to own property. Apartheid denied both freedom and property rights to the majority, and could do so because parliament was sovereign. This is directly relevant to the political economy SA had: one of racial socialism. The apartheid governme...

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