During our transition to democracy, political scientists used to talk about “confidence-building mechanisms”. These were essentially political devices to give ordinary citizens a sense of confidence in what was happening in the course of changing regimes from apartheid to democracy.

White citizens needed a sense of security — and here the primary device was the numerous public acts of reconciliation for which SA is still known around the world. Black citizens needed a sense of justice — and to this end a most impressive array of laws and policies were generated promising reconstruction and development. At the time, the transition was bloody and the prospects for democracy far from assured. “Ready to govern” pronounced a pamphlet of the liberation movement turning itself into a political party.

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