Constitution and Law IV

Developments in the Contemporary Constitutional State

Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, 2–3 November 2000: “Development in the Contemporary Constitutional State” is a broad theme, though also focused within the ambit of legal scholarship and practice. The focus involves the two most topical issues in contemporary South Africa: the need for development and the development of constitutionalism.

Constitutional Right of Access to Information

The need for a conference dealing with access to information became evident following the promulgation of legislation regulating the constitutional right to access to information. The Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 were enacted to comply with constitutional obligations laid down in section 32(2) (access to information) and section 33(3) (just administrative action) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996. The main purpose of these two statutes, which support and supplement each other, is to ensure the achievement of an open and democratic South Africa by promoting transparency, accountability, good governance and just administration on the part of government. The Promotion of Access to Information Act has gone a step further than the preceding Open Democracy Bill by extending the scope of the right to information held by private bodies – a fact which was debated and discussed at the conference.

Crime and Policing in Transitional Societies

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 30. August – 1. September 2000

While South Africa has faced high levels of crime in the first few years of the establishment of democracy, the country is by no means unique. A number of other societies that have also experienced transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule have undergone similar experiences. In almost all cases, such transitions have been accompanied by equally dramatic changes in economic and social circumstances, some of which have resulted in higher levels of crime.

Provincial Government in South Africa

Umtata, 16–18 August 2000

South Africa is characterised by significant territorially defined communal diversities of, for example, culture, language, ethnicity as well as economic disparities. Historically, pluralist societies such as the United States, Switzerland and India opted for such devolution of power to states, regions or provinces so as to bring about national unity. National unity and political stability were equally influential in persuading the ANC leadership to agree to decentralisation of power to the provinces. The conference aimed at stimulating debate on the role and future of the provincial governments in South Africa and at generating proposals for capacity building and/or alternatives to the present political dispensation. The papers were a blend of theoretical and practical contributions to the ongoing debate around ways of ensuring efficiency, democracy and more responsive governments in the provinces. The conference therefore provided a forum to take a fresh look at the Constitution and to find a new balance in intergovernmental relations.

Social Market Economy and Morality – Contradictory or Complementary?

The economic concept known as “Social Market Economy” has played a central role in the political and social upheavals that the world has witnessed since 1989. These upheavals changed the face of Middle and Eastern Europe with profound implications for many parts of the globe including South Africa.

Constitution and Law IV: Developments in the Contemporary Constitutional State

2–3 November 2000, Faculty of Law, Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education

Report on the proceedings of a conference conducted in conjunction with Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education on Development in the Contemporary Constitutional State - which is a broad theme, though also focused within the ambit of legal scholarship and practice. The focus involved the two most topical issues in contemporary South Africa: the need for development and the development of constitutionalism. The conference addressed the theme in four sessions:The significance of constitutional values Urban and rural land planning and development Environmental law implications of mining The limitation of export risks

Southern Africa and Mercosur/l: Reviewing the Relationship and Seeking Opportunities

24–25 October 2000, São Paulo, Brazil

Two questions arose at the Sao Paulo event which the presentations essentially sought to address: Was there a common regional interest in progressing with a closer inter-regional relationship? If so, how could the relationship be taken forward?Until now, the regional relationship has conceptually been handled at two levels: first, at the political level under the broad rubric of “South–South” cooperation. This has included dealings through the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic (ZPCSA), the Valdivia environmental groupingBut there is apparently more to the relationship than just freer trade and investment flows.Both Southern Africa and South America are grappling with the challenges of globalisation, of attempting to bridge the growing divide between what was described at the conference as “the digitally empowered and marginalised”. Closer cooperation might help to devise new norms, regimes and global architecture to cope with these difficulties by:developing strategies to reduce poverty, fight crime and narrow income disparitiesestablishing conditions of good public governance and assisting market reformssetting the standards for international best practice.

Democratic Transformation of Education in South Africa

27–28 September 2000, Stellenbosch Lodge Country Hotel, Stellenbosch

From Angola in the south-west through the Congos to Sudan in the north-west, a conflict zone exists which passes through the heart of Africa. Over the past four decades this has accounted for the death of millions, while contributing to the displacement of millions more. More depressing is the fact that contagion has occurred and now affects areas in Southern Africa, North and East Africa and West Africa.Many of these conflicts are intrastate and their roots often lie in contested perceptions of ethno-religious identity.

Globalisation and International Relations: Challenges and Opportunities for Provinces

31 August-1 September, Kromme Rhee, Stellenbosch

"Globalisation" is a popular term used by governments, businesses, academics and a range of diverse non-governmental organisations. It also, however, signifies a new paradigm within world politics and economic relations. While national governments for many years dictated the international political and economic scene, international organisations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation have now become significant roleplayers. In this "global village" national governments have lost some of their importance and perhaps their powers in favour of these major international organisations.Within the variety of federal systems found around the world there is at least one common denominator, namely that there is more than one level or sphere of government with constitutionally allocated powers and functions. In these systems the changes in global or international relations referred to above have an additional effect on the particular countries. It causes provinces, states or Länder to re-evaluate their role, in particular their role in international relations. Global matters – for example the creation of a free trade area – impacts at both the national or federal level of government, as well as at the provincial level.

Local Government Elections 2000: From Transition to Consolidation

20–21 September 2000, Cedar Park Convention Centre, Woodmead, Johannesburg

Fundamental to democracy is the notion that “the people shall govern”. This implies that structures andsystems are in place that provide citizens with a democratic right and responsibility to become involvedin government and governance. The goal motivating the transformation of local government is to developa framework and process that allows for effective government. This is a process that seeks to workclosely with local citizens and communities to find ways of meeting their needs and developing strategies to improve their quality of life. Furthermore, it seeks innovative methods to enhance and sustain the delivery of services, especially to those communities most in need.