Legal Approaches to Supporting Good Governance and Integrity in Africa
Chapter 5: Constitutions, constitutional rights and combating corruption: exploring the links
The national constitution is the supreme law of a state and, as a former Chief Justice of South Africa, Justice Ismail Mohammed has observed, it is not simply a document, which mechanically defines the structures of government and the relations between the government and the governed, but it is: [a] mirror reflecting the national soul, the identification of the ideals and aspirations of a nation; the articulation of the values binding its people and disciplining its government. Thus the fundamental values of a nation are enshrined in its national constitution and given that 'corruption and maladministration are inconsistent with' those values, it plays a key role in upholding good governance and accountability. This chapter explores this role in several ways. Section I provides an overview of the development of constitutions in Africa and the challenges of making them instruments of good governance. Section II considers the connection between constitutional rights and corruption, while Section III then explores the contribution that constitutional oversight bodies can make in combating corruption. Section IV then reviews the tensions between the enjoyment of constitutional rights and development of effective anti-corruption strategies.
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