Zimbabwe: symposium helps increase law students’ understanding of economic, social and cultural rights

The ICJ and the Zimbabwe Law Students Association (ZILSA) held a symposium on economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) on 17 April 2015 at Rainbow Towers Hotel, Harare.

A total of 84 people attended the symposium, 77 being students from the University of Zimbabwe.

The presenters at the symposium were Deputy Chief Justice L. Malaba, Dr V. Guni, Mr. D. Chimbga, Ms R. Rufu and Mr. J Mavedzenge.

Economic, social and cultural rights are a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe’s human rights discourse as they have been introduced into Zimbabwe’s Declaration of rights by the new Constitution of Zimbabwe (Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act 2013).

Zimbabwean jurisprudence on ESC rights is therefore still developing.

As a consequence, the notion of the justiciability of ESC rights is one that still requires nurturing if greater protection of these rights is to be achieved.

It was this background that motivated the ICJ and ZILSA to hold this symposium on ESC rights.

The symposium forms part of a broader initiative by the ICJ to ensure ESC rights awareness, education and litigation in Zimbabwe.

Through this symposium, the ICJ and ZILSA sought to provide a platform for law students to engage in an academic discussion on the scope, meaning and enforcement of the ESC rights.

The symposium discussions were meant to increase the students’ knowledge and understanding of ESC rights.

The topics presented at the symposium focused on the historical development and significance of ESC rights, litigation and justiciability of ESC rights under the new constitution and international best practices in the implementation of ESC rights.

The key note address was made by Deputy Chief Justice Malaba, under the topic, “Defining the Role of the Judiciary in the Enforcement of ESC Rights in Zimbabwe”.

The focus of his presentation was how the Zimbabwean judiciary has developed jurisprudence around ESC rights and in particular the approach of the Constitutional Court to the issue of “progressive realization” of ESC rights.

Commenting, after the symposium, Herbert Muromba a 4th year law student and President of ZILSA said: “The Deputy Chief Justice has transformed my understanding of ESC rights. The whole concept is no longer abstract but real, alive and relevant in my everyday life.”


Arnold Tsunga, ICJ Regional Director for Africa, t: +27 73 131 8411, e: arnold.tsunga(a)icj.org

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