The interrelationship between equality and socio-economic rights under South Africa's transformative constitution
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This article develops the interrelationship between the equality and socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights to enhance the responsiveness of our jurisprudence to the mutually reinforcing patterns of poverty and inequality in South Africa. We proceed from the principle that rights are interdependent and interconnected, and examine the implications of this for our evolving socio-economic rights and equality jurisprudence. We argue that such a reading accords with the mandate of the courts to promote the foundational constitutional values of human dignity, equality and freedom in their interpretation of the Bill of Rights, and advances the transformative goals of the Constitution. The article examines how equality jurisprudence should be developed so as to be more responsive to material disadvantage and the values protected by socio-economic rights. Thereafter, it examines how an equality perspective can enrich South Africa’s evolving jurisprudence on socio-economic rights. We demonstrate how the value of equality can be integrated within the model of reasonableness review developed by the Constitutional Court for evaluating positive socio-economic rights claims. Finally, some of the strategic implications of this interdependent reading of equality and socio-economic rights for developing a jurisprudence that facilitates the attainment of social and economic transformation in South Africa are considered.