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A STRIKING FEATURE OF THE EMERGENCE OF THE ‘NEW’ SOUTH Africa following the first democratic election in April 1994 was the widespread expectation that both the mechanism of transition and the electoral outcome in coalition government (the Government of National Unity: GNU) might serve as a model to other African regimes similarly placed. This may well be true with respect, for example, to the relevance of power-sharing arrangements of the kind that were built into South Africa's interim constitution in 1993, but as I shall explain, South Africa's experience of constitutional change and its outcome is best understood as sui generis. I am inclined to be sceptical about this assumption on the grounds that ‘models’ imported from elsewhere have not served Africa well; that the establishment of Westminster-style democratic structures in newly independent states in the 1950s and 1960s based on winner-take-all electoral systems failed to take into account historical and cultural differences — in particular the absence of anything resembling a Western-style tradition of democratic participation. Whether it could have served as a model, given the constraints of the time — loss of imperial will, insistent claims of indigenous nationalist elites etc. — is another matter. As Michael Oakeshott remarks: ‘[democracy] has been homegrown in Western society and to seek to transfer its beliefs and habits to an exotic soil will always be difficult.’