The Constitutional Protection of Socio-Economic Rights in Selected African Countries: A Comparative Evaluation
This article evaluates the extent to which a few selected African countries have incorporated socio-economic rights in their constitutions, the mechanisms through which such rights are realised, the challenges such realisation entails and the approach taken by the courts and other human rights institutions in those countries towards the realisation and enforcement of those rights. The survey examines South Africa, Namibia, Uganda and Ghana. Apart from the logical geographical spread, all these countries enacted their present constitutions around the same time (1990 to 1996) in an attempt to transform themselves into democratic societies. In a sense, these countries can be seen as transitional societies, emerging as they have done, from long periods of apartheid and foreign domination or autocratic dictatorships. The latter is true for Uganda and Ghana while the former refers to South Africa and Namibia. The article concludes that South Africa has not only made the most advanced constitutional provision for socio-economic rights, it has also taken the lead in the judicial enforcement of such rights, an experience from which the other countries in the survey can learn.