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November 7, 2013


Theme: South Africa’s democracy at 20: Diagnosis and prognosis

In April 1994 the transition in South Africa concluded its first phase with the general elections of that year and introduced the second phase of a Government of National Unity and a Constitutional Assembly. Most observers and scholars regard that election as the beginning of democratization in South Africa. In 2014 the fourth general election will conclude the first two decades of a post-apartheid dispensation, of a far-reaching transformation period, of a national democratic revolution in the words of the ANC, and democratization. While the South African government had its own Ten Year Review in 2004 and Fifteen Year Review in 2009, 2014 provides an opportunity for political scientists to conduct their own retrospection, diagnosis and prognosis.

Though the transition in the 1990s concentrated on the constitutional aspects with strong institutional, legal and political foci, 1994 can also be seen as a catalyst for deep-seated social changes and a new role for South Africa in the international community. Serious differences of opinion are expressed about the economy in the past twenty years: is it a neo-apartheid economy or two racialised economies as President Mbeki observed; or it is a neo-liberal globalized economy detached from poverty priorities or is it the foundation of a developmental state?

The purpose of this Conference is to provide an opportunity for the broad political science community in South Africa to focus its attention on analyzing the political dynamics and trends in South Africa, comparing it with similar cases, providing explanations and identifying trends, to test theoretical premises and look for opportunities of conceptualizing specific aspects of South African politics or engaging in different forms of theory building and teaching and learning in Political Science.

The conference theme lends themselves to a wide range of sub-themes. Participants are encouraged to propose panels or later to submit paper abstracts in any of the following sub-themes:

  1. 1.      A retrospective or revisionist view of the transition in the 1990s.
  2. 2.      South African constitutionalism, human rights and judicial politics.
  3. 3.      South Africa’s foreign policies and international relations.
  4. 4.      The state of democracy in South Africa: democratic consolidation, the quality of democracy.
  5. 5.      South African elections and electoral politics.
  6. 6.      Gender relations and politics.
  7. 7.      South African political economy and development.
  8. 8.      Party politics, party systems and elections.
  9. 9.      Governance in South Africa.

The conference programme will consist of Conference Theme Panels and Open Theme Panels. The Open Theme Panels can focus on any of the sub-disciplines in Political Science which are not accommodated in the conference theme. The Open Theme It is meant for participants who do not specialize in South African topics but who still want to participate in the conference. Proposals for the Conference Theme Panels can be in the mentioned sub-themes referred to above or any other area relevant to the conference theme. Potential participants are therefore invited to submit panel proposals in both categories to the organisers. SAAPS has also established four caucuses to encourage more interaction and cooperation in specific sub-disciplines. The organisers wish to encourage proposals for additional caucus panels. The International Relations caucus is coordinated by Dr Jo-Ansie van Wyk ( and Dr Costa Georghiou (; the African Politics caucus is coordinated by Prof Clive Napier ( and the Gender caucus is coordinated by Prof Amanda Gouws ( Proposals in these caucuses should be discussed with these coordinators.


This official announcement of the SAAPS National Conference 2014 serves as a call for panel proposals, both open and closed panels and both Conference Theme Panels and Open Theme Panels. The convenor (proposer) of an open panel must submit a panel proposal to the organisers in which the theme or focus is justified and explained. When a general call for paper abstracts is made later the accepted participants can be placed in the open panels. For a closed panel the convenor must submit a similar panel proposal to the organisers. The convenor will also take the responsibility to identify the paper presenters and therefore it is not open to any participant.

The panel proposal must include -

  • ·        The name of the panel
  • ·        The name of the convenor with contact details
  • ·        An explanation of the panel theme/topic in not more than 200 words.

Deadline for proposals: 15 January 2014

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Any information regarding the conference arrangements will be available from Prof Clive Napier,

Any information regarding the conference programme, panels and presentations will be available from Prof Dirk Kotzé,