Social Justice, Transitional Justice, and Political Transformation in South Africa

Authored by: Simon Stacey

Routledge International Handbook of Social Justice

Print publication date:  April  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415620437
eBook ISBN: 9781315857534
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934011

10.4324/9781315857534.ch7

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Abstract

When South Africa’s first democratically elected government took power in 1994, the country was one of the most politically and racially divided and socio-economically unequal in the world, and the new government faced several daunting tasks. Two of these are especially relevant. First, there were pressing issues of social justice: the government had to deal with extraordinary levels of material and economic inequality and deprivation. It had to provide housing, basic sanitation, healthcare, social services, electricity and communication services, potable water, and education to South Africa’s heavily under-served and disadvantaged non-white population. The South African economy was disproportionately in the hands of white South Africans, and as a matter both of political prudence and of justice, had to be diversified. Most and the best of South Africa’s land was owned by Whites; for the same reasons, it was urgent that the issue of this massively skewed distribution be addressed.

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