Citizenship and Accountability:  Litigating Customary Law and Traditional Leadership under South Africa’s Democratic Constitution 

It is twenty-five years since the transition to democracy in South Africa.  Some of the most enduring challenges to that transition have concerned the role of customary law and traditional leadership in the new democratic state.   

The Constitution recognises customary law, but as with all other law carried through the transition, that recognition is conditional upon customary law rules being consistent with the Constitution.  There are a growing number of court decisions addressing the question whether specific customary law rules are consistent with the Constitution. 

There is a growing political and scholarly debate about the institution, status and role of traditional leaders under the new constitutional framework.  In addition, there are questions concerning the relationship between institutions set up under the new constitutional framework, including Parliament, the Executive and the courts, and traditional authorities. These are questions that have troubled other democracies in Africa as well, including Malawi, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. 

The Land and Accountability Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, the newly established Bonavero Institute of Human Rights in the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford and the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government at the University of Oxford are holding a a conference on Citizenship and Accountability to draw together scholars, practitioners and judges to discuss these challenges. 

Conference Programme

If you are interested in attending the conference, please register for the event through this Eventbrite link by noon on Wednesday 12 June 2019.