An analysis of populism and human rights in South Africa
Terblanche, Wayne Richard
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The study focussed on the Human Rights challenges experienced in South Africa, as well as the rise of Populism, and Populist tactics used by politicians and political parties. Qualitative research methodology was used as extensive literature on both components of the study, Human Rights and Populism, was investigated. Examples of Populism and Populist governments in other parts of the world, such as in Latin America, the United States of America, and Central and Eastern Europe, were also provided. These examples were used to illustrate how Populism can be a threat to the realisation of Human Rights and how South Africa can take active steps not to make or allow the same mistakes to happen in the country. The study found a global rise in Populism and that its ethnic calls divide societies or nations; it also has the ability to instigate violence between the “original people” and the so-called “other”. Secondly, Populism is difficult to define as it can take on different forms in different countries. In some instances, the Populist call is not ethnic but rather between classes; for example, between the ordinary people and the elite. Thirdly, Populism shows little regard for democratic institutions and considers the will of the people as sovereign. Therefore, Populism poses a threat to Human Rights, which views all people as equal, and all people are entitled to enjoy these rights irrespective of culture, nationality, colour or creed. The researcher recommends that the rise of Populism in South Africa be monitored and the dangers that it poses to Human Rights be exposed to the citizens of the country. Human rights activists and institutions should be mindful of the threat of Populism to the fulfilment of Human Rights, as enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa. Moreover, the government and leading political parties should not only strive for success at the ballot box, but it is the duty of the government to ensure that all citizens as well as immigrants and asylum seekers are safe and entitled to the same Human Rights as stipulated in the Constitution of South Africa.