The 2013 Zimbabwe constitution has been the subject of interesting research (see for example our interview with James Tsabora), including the recently published anthology on ‘Selected Aspects of the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution and the Declaration of Rights’ to gain further insight on the importance of the 2013 Constitution and the associate publication, RWI recently met with its editor Dr.Admark Moyo.
Dr.Admark Moyo is a lawyer from Zimbabwe. He holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and focuses his research on the themes of constitutional and human rights law, including children’s rights.
In Selected Aspects of the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution and the Declaration of Rights, he aimed to fill the gap in knowledge and resources related to the constitution for teaching purposes. Indeed, most of the available textbooks offered perspectives from other jurisdictions, including South Africa, with very little contextualisation related to Zimbabwe being available.
‘We felt we had to produce a textbook providing guidance on the Constitution, which is such a huge and transformative document that seeks to change people’s lives.’
The upholding of the constitution is central to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. The document regulates the role and jurisdiction of national courts and their relationship with other organs of the state. It also includes a declaration of rights, which reproduces provisions in international human rights instruments including ICCPR, ICESCR and specific conventions on the Protection of the Rights of the Child. The setting out of rights in the constitution is extremely important to allow individuals to access them:
‘I think we have a very good legal and human rights framework protected in the Constitution. It really rather allows people to make rights based claims and say look I’m not asking for charity, I’m asking for my rights, and you have to provide me with water, with an education, with healthcare, and it’s right there in the Constitution.’
The textbook, resulting from the collaboration of authors representing Law Faculties across Zimbabwe, examines the nature and scope of the selected aspects of the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution and the Declaration of Rights.
‘The book is a combination between general principles of constitutional law and then specific aspects of the declaration of rights under the Constitution. It discusses some of the pressing human rights issues and how they are regulated by the Constitution’
Through the text invaluable guidance is offered on the scope of several provisions of the Constitution and their implications for the conduct of both state and non-state actors. For this edition, the selection of the general principles of constitutional law to discuss was based on their relevance to human rights.
You have a few chapters that explain why, for example, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary are important for the protection of human rights.
The textbook is an important resource for students and teachers alike, but also provides knowledge for human rights enforcement mechanisms, including the Human Rights Commission,practicing lawyers and the courts, to draw from to best fulfil their task of monitoring the implementation of the Constitution.
Kudakwashe A.V Chihata, a former student of Dr.Admark Moyo, offers insight on the impact of ‘Selected Aspects of the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution and Declaration if Rights’ on his studies and career as a lawyer:
‘The book came at a time when the legal fraternity and academia in Zimbabwe were trying to understand the nature and scope of the Zimbabwean Constitution. It clearly explained and dissected principles such as the rule of law, constitutional supremacy, checks and balances and constitutional litigation, which helped us gain a better understanding of the Constitution, the rights enshrined therein and how to enforce our rights. This book was instrumental in my legal studies and still is instrumental in my practice.’
Wishing to continue his work on the 2013 Constitution, Dr Moyo looks to expand the scope of the textbook with each new edition. Future topics he wishes to explore include for example the tension between economic development and human rights. Furthermore, to better disseminate knowledge, Dr Moyohopes to put together a Declaration of Rights Handbook, which would help not just students and teachers but also lawyers and judges.
‘Maybe we should start thinking about training programmes that target specific institutions that are known for close human rights violations. It may not change the entire picture, but it will surely change a couple of people and their thoughts. Gradually, this may have an important and far-reaching cumulative effect.’
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