The value of information in South Africa’s new democracy
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PURPOSE – The purpose of this paper is to trace and analyse the relationship between information and democracy in the old and in the new South Africa. The authors interrogate the applicability to the situation of the famous quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson, “Information is the currency of Democracy”. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH – The authors frame the argument by analysing the differences in philosophy underpinning the state’s attitude to the free flow of information between the pre-democratic regime (often referred to as the Apartheid regime which came into power in 1948) and the current democratic state established in 1994. FINDINGS – While the philosophical approach between the two regimes is demonstrably different – the findings show the discontinuities – the authors also find evidence of continuities. The authors examine traces of recurrent patterns and propose reasons for their persistence. ORIGINALITY/VALUE – Because South Africa is a very young democracy it presents unique opportunities for social scientists to analyse the unfolding of challenges and opportunities not readily apparent in mature democracies. The theme of the issue allowed us to study and observe the evolution and growth of policy related to the free flow of information, and also to examine the current drift between policy and practice.