South Africa's Constitution is the result of remarkably detailed and inclusive negotiations that were carried out with an acute awareness of the injustices of the country's non-democratic past. It is the highest law of the land and no other law or government action can supersede it.An interim constitution was first drafted as the country made its transition from apartheid to democracy. Then, in after the April 1994 elections, a new constitution was written in consultation with the public as well as elected public representatives.This was approved by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997. It is widely regarded as the most progressive constitution in the world, with a Bill of Rights second to none.
Human rights and freedomsHuman rights are given clear prominence in the Constitution. They feature in the Preamble with its stated intention of establishing "a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights".In the first chapter, human rights appear in the first of the Founding Provisions of the Republic of South Africa: "Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms." Spelt out in detail, they occupy 35 sections of Chapter 2.Among the rights stipulated are those of equality, freedom of expression and association, political and property rights, housing, health care, education, access to information, and access to courts.And all are taken extremely seriously by the city