chapter  7
11 Pages

‘No reconciliation without redress’: articulating political demands in post- transitional South Africa

WithAletta J. Norval

It is now just over 10 years since the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

completed its report. As is well known, the TRC was brought into being through an Act of

Parliament – the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill of 1995 – in the wake

of the first democratic elections in 1994.1 It was explicitly set up to confront the legacies of

the past so that citizens could live together in a democratic society. Unlike examples of tribunals

elsewhere, the TRC was established as a parliamentary commission, and its mandate was drawn

up after a series of parliamentary hearings and debates, as well as international conferences,

which gave it a public and democratic character that it endeavoured to sustain in its actual pro-

ceedings (Du Toit, 2000, p. 129). The TRC set out to offer both survivors and perpetrators of

gross abuses of human rights the opportunity to give voice, on the one hand to unacknowledged

wrongs committed during the apartheid era and, on the other hand, to provide information,

express regret and ask forgiveness.2 A crucial rationale of this process was to foster the con-

ditions under which the articulation of past experiences, losses and traumas could contribute

to a transformation of relations between the citizens of the new South Africa.