Individual Freedoms and State Security in the African Context: The Case of Zimbabwe

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Individual Freedoms and State Security in the African Context: The Case of Zimbabwe

By John Hatchard
Ohio University Press, 1993
209 pp. $19.95
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It will take more than the replacement of one-party regimes with multiparty regimes in Africa to ensure a transition toward democratic government. Another essential pillar of democracy must be legal systems that strike a proper balance between individual rights and the legitimate requirements of the state in promoting the public interest. Citing many relevant comparisons with other countries, this expert study uses the recent history of Zimbabwe to illustrate the promise as well as the pitfalls of constitutionalism in Africa. Using abuses of Zimbabwe's Emergency Powers Act as a focal point, the author exhaustively demonstrates that even a justiciable bill of rights as exemplary as Zimbabwe's posed little constraint on an executive that preferred to maintain a colonial state of emergency for a decade after independence in order to limit the protection of individual rights and afford itself the convenience of ruling by administrative decrees. On the brighter side, the independence and integrity of Zimbabwe's judiciary have shown that the rule of law is still an attainable goal in Africa. Appendices reproduce the Zimbabwe bill of rights and the key sections of the Emergency Powers Act.

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