Justice Ngcobo’s Rich Legacy at the Intersection of Federalism and Democracy


  • Victoria Bronstein University of the Witwatersrand




federalism, Tongoane, Matatiele, democracy, tagging, public participation, provincial boundaries



This article aims to make a connection between the Tongoane judgment, which deals with ‘tagging’ legislation, and Justice Ngcobo’s innovative thinking in the Matatiele Municipality cases, which are about the demarcation of provincial boundaries. These cases are bound together by Justice Ngcobo’s powerful commitment to democracy at the sub-national level. The judgments build accountability at grassroots level and constrain authoritarian impulses. This article examines the political issues behind provincial demarcation disputes, including ethnic impulses. It argues that current democratic concepts in South African Constitutional law can never meet the popular sovereignty, self-determinative type of claim of communities who wish to determine their own futures in boundary disputes. These disputes raise specific democratic problems that need to be named, seen for what they are and theorised on their own terms.



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How to Cite

Bronstein, Victoria. 2018. “Justice Ngcobo’s Rich Legacy at the Intersection of Federalism and Democracy”. Southern African Public Law 32 (1&2):22 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2522-6800/3561.
Received 2017-11-30
Accepted 2017-12-06
Published 2018-08-06