f_0015751_13705 - Protecting Human Rights Amidst Poverty...

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Protecting Human Rights Amidst Poverty and Inequality: The South African Post-Apartheid Experience on the Right of Access to Housing John C. Mubangizi ………………… Abstract A significant gain of the new political and constitutional dispensation ushered in South Africa in 1994 was a commitment to the protection of human rights. However, protecting human rights in a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is among the largest in the world was always going to be a daunting challenge. The challenge is even more daunting with the protection of socio-economic rights such as the right of access to adequate housing. This article explores the challenges that South Africa faces in protecting human rights in the face of persistent poverty of over half of the country’s population, vast economic disparities and gross inequality. Focusing on the right of access to adequate housing, the author explores some prospects arising from the roles played by the constitution; domestic courts; other state institutions as well as non-state actors. The article concludes that although the challenges are real, the prospects are promising. However, a lot must be done if the democratic miracle that has characterized South African society over the last fifteen years is to be maintained. Professor of Law, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head: College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. ©2008. The Africa Law Institute. All rights reserved. Cite as: 2 Afr. J. Leg. Stud. 2 (2008) 130-146. The African Journal of Legal Studies (“AJLS”) is a free peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal published by The Africa Law Institute (“ALawI”). ALawI’s mission is to engage in policy-oriented research that promotes human rights, good governance, democracy and the rule of law in Africa. The views expressed in the articles and other contributions to the AJLS are those of the authors only, not of our Editorial or Consultative Boards or ALawI. To download or comment on current articles, sign-up for future issues or submit a manuscript, please visit <http://www.africalawinstitute.org/ajls> or e- mail ajls@africalawinstitute.org. AJLS is also available on CIAO Net, HeinOnline, Lexis-Nexis, ProQuest, Quicklaw and Westlaw. The journal welcomes books for review and inquiries from experts wishing to serve on our consultative board. E-mail Charles Chernor Jalloh, Founding Editor-in-Chief, at ajls.editor@gmail.com .
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2 Afr. J. Leg. Stud. 2 (2008) 130-146 I. Introduction Protecting human rights can be a daunting challenge in a country like South Africa where about half of the population is considered poor and the gap between the rich and poor is among the largest in the world. The challenge is aggravated by the fact that South Africa is a society of unprecedented diversity. Such diversity manifests itself in terms of race, colour, gender, language, ethnicity, religion, culture and disability. This challenge also has to be seen against the
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f_0015751_13705 - Protecting Human Rights Amidst Poverty...

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