In April 1994, South Africans stood in long, snaking queues, patiently waiting to cast their votes in the country’s first ever multiracial democratic election. South Africans were taking a step into the unknown after decades of white supremacist, authoritarian rule in the form of apartheid and-prior to that-centuries of racial oppression, violence, and segregation under British and Dutch colonial rule. While the preceding 46 years of white apartheid rule had created a political and social system of racial segregation, black South Africans had for centuries under British and Dutch rule been denied the democratic rights and freedoms they were now about to embrace. As the votes were cast, South Africans took their first step together into a very new democracy.
An interim constitution laid the foundation for the new democracy, creating rights and freedoms for all South Africans while the new democratically elected leaders, opposition parties, civil society, and lawmakers began the hard work of negotiating a final constitution. In 1996, South Africa’s constitution was adopted and has-within the last 21 years-become the bedrock upon which citizens have built a stronger democracy.
CHAPTER 2: BILL OF RIGHTS
19. (1) Every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right(a) to form a political party .
to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party; and
to campaign for a political party or cause. (2) Every citizen has theright to free, fair and regular elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution. (3) Every adult citizen has the right(a) to vote in elections for any legislative body
established in terms of the
Constitution, and to do so in secret; and
(b) to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.