Conference on the New Zimbabwean Constitution and the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe (Past Project)

Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in May 2013, which was previously approved in a referendum by 95 per cent of the voters. Its text replaces the old Lancaster House Constitution adopted in 1981 and may be ranked among Africa’s more progressive national constitutions. An essential part of the “Global Political Agreement”, which was concluded between the ruling party “Zanu-PF” and the opposition “Movement for Democratic Change” (MDC), was put into practice with the adoption of the 2013 Constitution. It also completed a long-lasting constitutional reform process, which had been marked and delayed by several setbacks and discarded drafts.

The 2013 Constitution guarantees extensive civil and social participation rights, promotes good governance, and provides for the appointment of independent commissions. The implementation of these provisions, however, appears to be more problematic. Even though the Constitution can be regarded as self-implementing, the fact that many old laws have not been aligned with the new constitutional framework has caused confusion. Moreover, there is a delay in the implementation of institutional reforms prescribed by it, such as decentralisation.

To help operationalise the Constitution, the Max Planck Foundation organised a conference in Harare in March 2015 entitled “Assessing the Implementation of Zimbabwe’s New Constitution: National, Regional and Global Perspectives”. The conference aimed at reviving the national dialogue between political decision-makers, representatives from the judiciary and civil society, as well as constitutional experts on the chances and challenges of the new Zimbabwean Constitution and on further necessary steps to guarantee its full implementation.

The conference was carried out in cooperation with the “Development and Rule of Law Programme” (DROP) at the University of Stellenbosch and the Zimbabwean partner “Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust”.