Constitutional Populism in South Africa: Variation on an Old Theme?

South Africa’s Parliament is currently considering an amendment to the property clause in that country’s celebrated 1996 Constitution. The amendment would provide for the payment of ‘nil compensation’ in certain circumstances where land is expropriated for land reform. The broader significance of this amendment is that it is the first real sign that the constitutional-populist tide sweeping the globe has reached South Africa. What emerges from the rise of the explicitly left-wing populist Economic Freedom Fighters and a “Radical Economic Transformation” faction within the ANC is a kind of constitutional populism that shares some of the same features as the instances of this phenomenon in North America and Europe, but also displays differences. Examination of the South African case thus provides an opportunity for reflection on the modalities of constitutional populism in the Global South as opposed to the Global North.