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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Group rights in post-apartheid South Africa: the case of the traditional leaders
Author:Oomen, BarbaraISNI
Year:1999
Periodical:Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Issue:44
Pages:73-103
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:plural society
customary law
traditional rulers
Abstract:This paper examines the status of customary law and traditional leaders in the rapidly changing, legally plural society of South Africa after the demise of the apartheid system. It investigates the modernity of the concept of group rights and its recognition as a means to accommodate diversity. Two observations are made. First, the limited recognition of group rights in South Africa was not inspired by ideological reasons or a belief in the moral justness of these rights. The rights were introduced out of political necessity and are considered by the ANC as a temporary means to ensure political stability and to get rid of the cleavages of the past. In the second place, though multiculturalism ideally offers citizens the possibility of achieving a more meaningful identity through an optional State recognition of their group membership, the specific case of recognition of traditional leadership and customary law in South Africa demonstrates that State recognition of plurality can lead to legal inequality, exacerbation of ethnicity and the dwindling of individual identity. Because of its links with the past this case points to the dangers of assigning rights to fixed categories of so-called cultural groups. Bibliogr., notes, ref.

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