ANC Draft of South African Constitution Signals Agreement on Nature of Democracy
JOHANNESBURG — THE African National Congress published a draft constitution for South Africa Friday which suggests broad consensus with the government on the need for a multiparty democracy, a Bill of Rights, and an independent judiciary. The 32-page document - due to be discussed and ratified at the ANC's national conference in June - has been widely welcomed by political scientists, liberal politicians, and the news media. The government reserved comment on grounds that the document is not final.
The draft represents important shifts in ANC thinking - on the voting system and nature of the legislature - which bring it closer to the government, but fundamental differences remain.
The two now broadly agree on: a multiparty democracy with elections every five years; an independent judiciary with power to set aside legislation; a bill of rights with special protection for languages; national and regional elections based on the principle of proportional representation; a legislature with two houses similar to the United States; the reincorporation of four nominally independent tribal homelands.
The ANC favors a unitary state which would have power to redress historical imbalances in housing, education, and health care; the government favors a federal system with strong regional and local power structures. Differences also remain on the nature and powers of the Senate and structure of the executive.