South Africa's remarkable transition from a system based on minority rule and apartheid to a constitutionally supreme democracy is well-known. The founding of a "new" South Africa (based on values such as human dignity; the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism; the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law; universal adult suffrage; a national common voters roll; regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government) was designed to revolutionise South African society. The intention, no doubt, was that this universally-acclaimed political transformation would be sufficient to propel the country towards the achievement of the Preamble promise to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person. It appears increasingly likely, however, that the famed liberation struggle and constitutionally-based transition will be remembered only as a 'first phase" achievement. The establishment of a constitutional democracy in South Africa may have been an outstanding building block for societal change and social protection. Perhaps through design, but more likely through implementation, this first phase transition has been unable to achieve significant gains in the country battle against the so-called "triple challenge" of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The author provides a snapshot of the achievements and failures of this first phase" transition, briefly describing the key shortcomings in regard to poverty, unemployment- and inequality reduction. This is followed by some discussion regarding the key elements of a so-called '"second phase" transition, and a summary of key judgments of the Constitutional Court of South Africa involving socio-economic rights. The article focuses on the argument that the general understanding of the role of the separation of powers doctrine be fundamentally reconfigured, so as to enhance the ability of the judiciary, as well as other key stakeholders (such as the legislature, executive and civil society) to focus attention on (and reduce) the defects in the present scenario.

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Avinash Govindjee, 'The Role of the Courts in Addressing Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment in South Africa' (2012) 8(2) Socio-Legal Review 55

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