Special Issue on 30 Years of South African Democracy


2024 marks the thirtieth anniversary of democracy in South Africa. Since 1994, South Africa has experienced ebbs and flows. In the early days, South Africa’s democracy was seen as a success story. More recently, it has been classified as a ‘flawed democracy’. The thirtieth anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the past thirty years and envision the next thirty. To celebrate this anniversary and promote continued dialogue, the Southern African Public Law Journal (SAPL) is pleased to announce a call for papers on the following topics:

  • Constitutionalism and the rule of law in post-apartheid South Africa: This theme explores the evolution of constitutionalism and the rule of law in South Africa since the transition to democracy. It invites research on the development and interpretation of the South African Constitution, achievements and challenges of transformative constitutionalism, the role of constitutional institutions, and the challenges and achievements in upholding the rule of law in a diverse and transforming society.

  • The progress and challenges of South African democracy: This topic invites articles that examine the progress that has been made in South Africa’s democratic transition, as well as the challenges that remain. Articles could focus on the political, economic, and social dimensions of South African democracy, and the challenges that South Africa faces in maintaining a democratic society.

  • Human rights and social justice in the democratic era: This theme explores the advancements and setbacks in human rights and social justice in South Africa over the past three decades. Topics may include the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, and social rights, efforts to address inequality and discrimination, and the impact of human rights litigation and advocacy.

  • Electoral and governance reforms in the democratic process: This theme focuses on electoral and governance reforms that have shaped South African democracy. It encompasses research on electoral systems, political party dynamics, the role of civil society in fostering accountable governance, and the challenges associated with promoting transparency, accountability, and participatory democracy.

  • The role of the judiciary in shaping democratic institutions: This theme examines the role of the judiciary in shaping democratic institutions and safeguarding constitutional principles. It encompasses research on judicial independence, the interpretation and application of constitutional rights, landmark judgments that have shaped democracy, and the relationship between the judiciary, other branches of government, and civil society.

  • Constitutional rights and the protection of vulnerable groups: This theme focuses on the protection of constitutional rights and the challenges faced by vulnerable groups in South African society. It invites articles on issues such as gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, the rights of children, persons with disabilities, migrants, and marginalised communities, and the efforts made to address historical injustices and ensure inclusivity.

  • Socio-economic rights and the pursuit of equality in South Africa: This theme explores the realisation of socio-economic rights in South Africa and the pursuit of equality. It encompasses issues such as access to education, healthcare, housing, social security, and employment, as well as the role of the state, civil society, and private actors in advancing socio-economic rights and reducing inequality.

  • Land reform, restitution, and the challenges of redress: This theme focuses on land reform and restitution efforts in South Africa, considering the challenges, achievements, and implications for democracy. Topics may include land redistribution, the restitution of land rights, the impact on agricultural practices and rural communities, and the role of customary law in land governance.

  • Transitional justice and truth and reconciliation initiatives: This theme explores transitional justice mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation commissions, in the aftermath of apartheid. It invites articles on the successes, limitations, and ongoing debates surrounding truth-telling, accountability, reparations, and the reconciliation process in South Africa.

  • International perspectives on South African democracy: This theme invites comparative studies and international perspectives on South African democracy. It encompasses research that situates South Africa’s democratic journey within a global context, examining lessons learned, comparative constitutionalism, and the impact of South Africa’s experience on democratic transitions in other countries.

  • The role of the media in South African democracy: This theme invites articles that examine the role of the media in South African democracy, both historically and in the present day. Articles could focus on the ways in which the media has contributed to South Africa’s democratic transition, the challenges that the media faces in a democratic society, and the future of the media in South Africa.

  • The future of democracy in South Africa:This theme invites articles that consider the future of democracy in South Africa, and the challenges that South Africa faces in maintaining a democratic society. Articles could focus on the threats to democracy in South Africa, the strategies that are being used to safeguard democracy, and the future of democracy in South Africa.

  • Any other relevant topics


We are looking for submissions that challenge the status quo and offer new insights into South African democracy. We welcome submissions from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. We also welcome different kinds of submissions, including artistic expression. We are open to new ideas, and if you would like to float an idea past our editorial team, please feel free to contact us. Standard articles must strictly follow the house style of Southern African Public Law (Author Guidelines).


Standard articles must contain an indented abstract of not more than 250 words and should not exceed 8 000 words (including the list of references). Case notes, journal notes, and book reviews should not exceed 3 000 words.

Submissions should made be via https://unisapressjournals.co.za/index.php/SAPL/about/submissions.


Submission Deadline: 30 January 2024

Review Process: 1 February– 31 May 2024

Publication of Special Issue: July 2024


For any enquiries about the Special Issue, contact the following:

Prof Babatunde Fagbayibo


Mr Paul Mudau