Socio-economic gains and losses: The South African Constitutional Court and social change
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The inclusion of socio-economic rights in South Africa’s transformative Constitution, it was felt, would make the Constitution relevant to the majority of South Africans, in particular the previously oppressed. Accordingly, the courts, the Constitutional Court in particular, have sought to translate these rights into concrete benefits that make a real difference for those for whom poverty is a lived reality, demonstrating that they are willing to enforce not just the negative prohibitions but also the positive duties imposed by socio-economic rights. Notwithstanding this, the extent to which the decisions of the Constitutional Court contribute to social change has been limited by a number of factors including inadequate implementation of court orders. This article illustrates that, though significant progress has been made, much still needs to be done to promote socio-economic transformation in the interests of the poor and disadvantaged.