Exploring the Relationship between Violent Protest and Procedural justice in South Africa’s Democratic Transition

This presentation explores the democracy-supporting role that procedural values such as participatory governance, impartiality and justified public decision-making, play in the process of consolidating peace and democracy in South Africa. The argument is made in the context of the high levels of violent protest action that have plagued the country in recent years, which is destabilising, illegitimating and constitutes a significant threat to the democratic and constitutional health of South Africa. Outcomes of recent studies in the area of social science are drawn on, suggesting that an increasing number of citizens feel that resorting to violence is the only effective means of ensuring that government will listen to them – ‘citizen articulation of procedural injustice’ in interactions with the state. It is argued that public decision-making which takes sufficient cognisance of procedural principles is enhances legitimacy and more peaceful resolution of societal conflict.