Learning democracy ; a case study of learning democracy in a peri- urban community development project.
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The 1996 constitution of South Africa was adopted as the supreme law of the Republic so as to establish a new society based on democratic values, to 'improve the lives of all citizens and to free the potential of all persons by every means possible' (1996:Section 27). Every person now has certain inherent rights which were denied to most prior to the 1994 elections. All persons have the right to dignity, and the right to have their dignity respected and protected. The State agrees, 'within its resources as outlined in its macro economic strategy GEAR' (Beck 2000: 195) to take reasonable legislative and other measures to achieve the progressive realization of people's rights and to have these rights respected. There is a major shift in the way society is governed. Government legislation reflects the move away from the harsh, discriminatory laws of the past, to a new social order based on democratic principles. Most welfare organizations are willing to embrace the new dispensation and some are well advanced in the transformation process which embraces the developmental approach to social welfare. This research looks at two such organizations within the context of a case study. Its purpose is not to detail the difficulties and tensions faced by the organizations in terms of the implementation of a developmental approach to social welfare, but rather to explore how two groups of people from very diverse backgrounds, politically, historically and economically, learn to work together on a developmental project during a time of monumental change. It details how the two organisations made progress together in spite of their many difficulties and differences, to bring each phase of the Project to fruition during the period October 1997 - October 2001. I use the actual geographical names of the Project during the research but the names of the organisations and the participants have been changed to protect identities.