"The judiciary in Zimbabwe used to be viewed as a progressive bench recognised for its activism, particularly its purposive approach in interpreting the Bill of Rights to ensure protection of human rights. It was one of the best Commonwealth judiciaries, which was inspired by international standards in interpreting human rights and at the same time contributed to the origination of normative standards through its decisions. Although Zimbabwe is a dualist system, the judiciary accepted and drew inspiration from international human rights treaties. The Supreme Court (SC) under Chief Justice (CJ) Gubbay (the Gubbay bench) made several progressive pronouncements that favoured the promotion and protection of human rights. In tandem with its tradition of judicial independence, the judiciary interpreted draconian legislation in favour of human rights often striking down the offensive clauses in legislation. Indeed the perception towards the judiciary by the common person was that of a protector of human rights. One landmark human rights decision on the Land Reform Programme (LRP) stated that farm invasions were unlawful and an affront to section 16 of the Constitution. The SC ordered the executive to take necessary measures to ensure that invasions were sanctioned. It further requested the executive to furnish a plan of action for the LRP. The execuitve did not welcome this ruling and the SC judges wre hounded out of office in a clear culmination of judiciary-executive tension. A new bench came in under CJ Chidyausiku (the Chidyausiku bench). This bench made several rulings that took away individual property rights without justification. In a clear shift of jurisprudential ideology, the current bench has not engaged in activism resulting in less, if not no, protection of human rights. The disparity in the jurisprudence is evident in other cases. The current bench seems to have abrogated its mandate to protect human rights. This study is thus prompted to investigate why the different benches in Zimbabwe have produced totally variant jurisprudence, particularly in light of the fact that the judiciary is operating under the same laws and is appointed under the same procedures as before. ... Chapter 1 sets out the focus and content of the study. Chapter 2 gives a national framework for human rights protection in Zimbabwe. This looks at the structure of courts in Zimbabwe. Special emphasis is placed on the SC as the court that has the prime mandate of protecting human rights. Constitutional guarantees for the independence of the judiciary and the Bill of Rights, among others, is analysed. Chapter 3 deals with human rights jurisprudence of the SC benches. The chapter focuses on approach of the benches to human rights protection. It examines the approach to procedural and technicalities that often hinder human rights litigation and protection such as standing, delay, interpretation, compliance with court orders and use of international instruments. Chapter 4 focuses on the experiences from Uganda and analyses the approach of the Ugandan courts. Chapter 5 consists of best practices from the two jurisdictions, conclusion and recommendations for the Zimbabwean judiciary." -- Introduction.
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2005.
Prepared under the supervision of Professor Frederick Jjuuko at Human Rights and Peace Centre, Faculty of Law, Makerere University in Uganda