Impediments to the Delivery of Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa

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Many countries, such as South Africa, proclaim their support for human rights, but not as many manage to turn these rights into social and economic resources necessary for life for the majority of the population. A number of basic requirements are necessary in order to achieve this. The first of these is an adequate legislative framework. The operation of formal institutions tasked with the enforcement and delivery of rights are often mediated in a negative way by powerful informal institutions. Courts often operate to maintain the status quo. Beyond the unreformed nature of the legal system is the limitation imposed by the lack of capacity within appropriate institutions whose task it is to advise, deliver and support those that are attempting to gain access to their rights. Another requirement for the effective delivery of socio-economic rights is an efficient state administration, at national regional and local level, with decisive political leadership and efficient management within the civil service. This is the weakest link in the Second and Third generation rights delivery chain in South Africa. In situations where state administrations act in an arbitrary and uncaring manner, are inefficient and corrupt, a lack of remedy is often due to a lack of willingness on the part of political leadership to act decisively and due to a lack of experienced and efficient management within the administration itself. There are increasing signs that the government and the state that it presides over are being challenged by institutions of civil society, through a variety of strategies. These range from attempts at collaboration, strikes, protest marches, court action and open acts of defiance. The paper looks at the failure of socio-economic rights contained within the Constitution to translate into access to resources by poor South Africans.


Keywords: Socio-economic Rights, Resource Delivery, Legislative Frameworks, Legal Access, State Administration Capacity, Political Leadership, Civil Society
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Monty Johan Jacobus Roodt

Head of Department, Department of Sociology, Rhodes University
Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa

I am the Head of Department of the Sociolology Department at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. As such I administer, teach, supervise post-graduate students and do research. I teach a broad range of subjects: introduction to sociology, social change, development, social research, and identity. My main research areas are in the field of the sociology of development, specifically rural development, socio-economic rights, cross-border interaction, governance and land reform.

Ref: I08P0113