Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking
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Yet today, many in government see civil society’s ‘watchdog’ role as a thorn in its side.

Catherine Barnes and Eldred De Klerk

The South African people participated indirectly in negotiations for the end of apartheid and a new Constitution through mass political parties.

The article describes the creation and collapse of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), the subsequent formation of the Multi-Party Negotiation Process, and the Constitutional Assembly elections.

It analyses the negotiations’ structures, mechanisms and substantive issues, examining how these processes balanced the democratic weight of the larger parties with the need for an inclusive process.

Finally, the article describes the drafting of the Constitution and the public participation mechanisms used to ensure its public ownership and legitimacy.