Comprehending the Legality of the Use of the Term “Practicable” in the South African Constitution from the African Languages Perspective

Stanley Madonsela


The Constitution of South Africa is the fundamental guideline determining the way the country should be managed and governed. At the time of its drafting, the main aim of the Constitution was to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on social justice, democratic values and basic human rights. However, the use of certain South African languages has been subjected to limitations, making the full implementation of some of the provisions of the Constitution impossible. The Constitutional provisions, especially as they relate to the indigenous South African languages, have given rise to the debate concerning the use of the term “practicable”. Taking sections 29 and 35 of the Constitution as the point of departure, in this article I explore the use of this qualifier, the employment of which sometimes leads to misunderstandings and uncertainties with regard to language rights.


Constitution, South Africa, Languages

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