About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Explanatory Memorandum

This Constitution was drafted in terms of Chapter 5 of the interim Constitution (Act 200 of 1993) and was first adopted by the Constitutional Assembly on 8 May 1996. In terms of a judgement of the Constitutional Court, delivered on 6 September 1996, the text was referred back to the Constitutional Assembly for reconsideration. The text was accordingly amended to comply with the Constitutional Principles contained in Schedule 4 of the interim Constitution. It was signed into law on 10 December 1996.

The objective in this process was to ensure that the final Constitution is legitimate, credible and accepted by all South Africans.

To this extent, the process of drafting the Constitution involved many South Africans in the largest public participation programme ever carried out in South Africa. After nearly two years of intensive consultations, political parties represented in the Constitutional Assembly negotiated the formulations contained in this text, which are an integration of ideas from ordinary citizens, civil society and political parties represented in and outside of the Constitutional Assembly.

This Constitution therefore represents the collective wisdom of the South African people and has been arrived at by general agreement.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.