Strengthening Locus Standi in Human Rights Litigation in Zimbabwe: An analysis of the Provisions in the New Zimbabwean Constitution


  • Lovemore Chiduza University of Limpopo
  • Paterson Nkosemntu Makiwane Walter Sisulu University



Zimbabwe, locus standi, human rights litigation


Zimbabweans have been both victims of and witnesses to serious human rights violations over the years.Though there is wide agreement and speculation that the state and its agencies are the perpetrators of these atrocities, they have largely remained unprosecuted and unpunished.Such impunity is inter alia the result of ineffective law enforcement mechanismsand institutions as well as the lack of capacity and legal knowledge of victims to approach the courts and seek redress. These factors negatively affected the protection of human rights and access to justice in Zimbabwe.

Although the Lancaster House Constitution contained a Declaration of Rights, its enforcement mechanisms, particularly those relating to locus standi (legal standing), posed a great challenge to human rights litigation in Zimbabwe. This is so because the Lancaster House Constitution adopted the traditional common law approach to standing. Under this approach it was required that an individual must have a "personal, direct or substantial interest" in a matter in order to have standing. The Lancaster House Constitution failed to recognise the importance of broader rules of standing, which would accommodate public interest litigation, specifically for the purpose of protecting human rights. Contrary to this, the new Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013) broadens the rules of standing in order to enhance access to the courts. This paper analyses the new approach to standing under the new constitutional dispensation in Zimbabwe.

To this end, the discussion commences with an elucidation of the concept of locus standi and its link to access to justice. This is followed by an analysis of locus standi under the Lancaster House Constitution. Since the new approach in Zimbabwe is greatly informed by the South African approach to locus standi, a brief analysis of standing in South Africa is made. The paper concludes with a discussion of the approach to locus standi under the new constitution with a view to demonstrating how the new approach is likely to impact on the right of access to justice and human rights protection.


Google_Scholar_12023.png     ScienceOpen_Log034315.png


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Lovemore Chiduza, University of Limpopo

BA English (Solusi University); LLB, LLM (University of Fort Hare). Senior Lecturer, Department of Criminal Law and Procedure, University of Limpopo. Email:

Paterson Nkosemntu Makiwane, Walter Sisulu University

BA, Hons BA (Unisa), B.Proc, LL.B (Unitra), LL.M, LL.D (Unisa). Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa. Email:


Abebe 2010 AHRLJ

Abebe AK "Towards More Liberal Standing Rules to Enforce Constitutional Rights in Ethiopia" 2010 AHRLJ 407-431

Brickhill and Du Plessis 2011 SAJHR

Brickhill J and Du Plessis M "Two's Company. Three's a Crowd in Investor-State Arbitration (Piero v South Africa)" 2011 SAJHR 152-166

Cappelletti Judicial Process

Cappelletti M The Judicial Process in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press Oxford 1989)

Cote and Van Garderen 2011 SAJHR

Cote D and Van Garderen J "Challenges to Public Interest Litigation in South Africa: External and Internal Challenges to Determining the Public Interest" 2011 SAJHR 167-182

De Bourbon 2003 AHRLJ

De Bourbon A "Human Rights Litigation in Zimbabwe: Past, Present and the Future" 2003 AHRLJ 195-221

Dugard 2006 SAJHR

Dugard J "Court of First Instance? Towards a Pro-Poor Jurisdiction for the South African Constitutional Court" 2006

SAJHR 261-282

Hershkoff and McCutcheron "Public Interest Litigation"

Hershkoff H and McCutcheron A "Public Interest Litigation: An International Perspective" in McClaymont M and Golub S (eds) Many Roads to Justice: The Law-Related Work of Ford Foundation Grantees Around the World (Ford Foundation New York 2000) 283-296

Kay "Standing to Raise Constitutional Issues"

Kay RS "Standing to Raise Constitutional Issues: Comparative Perspectives" in Kay RS (ed) Standing to Raise Constitutional Issues: Comparative Perspectives (Bruylant Bruxelles 2005) 257-286

Liebenberg "Reflections on the Drafting a Bill of Rights"

Liebenberg S "Reflections on the Drafting a Bill of Rights: A South African Perspective" in Kersting N (ed) Constitution in Transition: Academic Inputs for a New Constitution in Zimbabwe (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Harare 2009) 21-45

Linington "Developing a New Bill of Rights"

Linington G "Developing a New Bill of Rights for Zimbabwe: Some Issues to Consider" in Kersting N (ed) Constitution in Transition: Academic Inputs for a New Constitution in Zimbabwe (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Harare 2009) 46-84

Loots 1989 SALJ

Loots C "Locus Standi to Claim Relief in the Public Interest in Matters Involving the Enforcement of Legislation" 1989 SALJ 131-148

Madhuku 1998 Legal Forum

Madhuku L "Constitutional Interpretation and the SC as a Political Actor: Some Comments on United Parties v Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs" 1998 Legal Forum 48

Mapfumo Whither to, the Judiciary in Zimbabwe?

Mapfumo T Whither to, the Judiciary in Zimbabwe? A Critical Analysis of the Human Rights Jurisprudence of the Gubbay and Chidyausiku Supreme Court Benches in Zimbabwe and Comparative Experiences from Uganda (LLM-thesis University of Pretoria 2005)

Mbazira 2012 LDD

Mbazira JC "Constructing the Amicus Curiae Procedure in Human Rights Litigation: What Can Uganda Learn from South Africa?" 2012 LDD 199-218

Obiagwu and Odinkalu "Combating Legacies of Colonialism and Militarism"

Obiagwu C and Odinkalu CA "Combating Legacies of Colonialism and Militarism" in An-Na'im AA (ed) Human Rights under African Constitutions: Realising The Promise for Ourselves (University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia 2003) 211-250

Case law


Frasier v Ontario (Attorney General) 2008 OJ No 1219 (CA)


Hadkinson v Hadkinson 1952 All ER 567 (CA)

F Hoffman-La Roche and Co AG v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1975 AC 295

European Court of Human Rights

Van der Tang v Spain 1996 22 EHRR 363 (ECHR)


Laxmi Kant Pandey v Union of India 1984 SC 469

Sheela Barse v Secretary, Children's Aid Society 1987 SC 659

South Africa

Besserglik v Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism 1996 4 SA 331 (CC)

Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education 1998 12 BCLR 1449 (CC)

Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education 2000 10 BCLR 1051 (CC)

De Lille v Speaker of the National Assembly 1998 3 SA 430 (CC)

Dormehl v Minister of Justice 2000 2 SA 825 (CC)

Ferreira v Levin 1996 1 SA 984 (CC)

Government of the Republic of South Africa v Grootboom 2000 11 BCLR 1169 (CC)

Hoffman v South African Airways 2000 11 BCLR 1211 (CC)

Lawyers for Human Rights v Minister of Home Affairs 2004 4 SA 125 (CC)

Mazibuko v City of Johannesburg 2010 4 SA 1 (CC)

MEC for Development Planning and Local Government in Gauteng v Democratic Party 1998 4 SA 1157 (CC)

Minister of Health v Treatment Action Campaign 2002 5 SA 721 (CC)

Mohamed v President of the Republic of South Africa 2001 7 BCLR 685 (CC)

Moseneke v The Master 2001 2 SA 18 (CC)

S v Dlamini (heard with S v Dladla; S v Joubert; S v Schietekat) 1999 4 SA 623 (CC)

S v Makwanyane 1995 6 BCLR 665 (CC)

United States of America

People v Hawkins 326 III 3d 992


Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd v Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office (07/03) (Pvt) 2003 ZWSC 20 (11 September 2003)

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe v Attorney-General 1993 4 SA 239 (ZS)

Capital Radio (Pvt) Ltd v Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (162/2001) (Pvt) 2003 ZWSC 65 (25 September 2003)

Jesse v Attorney-General 1999 1 ZLR 121 (SC)

Law Society of Zimbabwe v Minister of Finance (Attorney-General Intervening) 1999 2 ZLR 231 (SC)

Martin v Attorney-General 1993 1 ZLR 153 (SC)

Mhandirwhe v Minister of State 1986 1 ZLR 1 (S)

Minister of Home Affairs v Bickle 1983 1 ZLR 99 (S)

Muchero v Attorney-General 2000 2 ZLR 286 (SC)

Retrofit (Pvt) Ltd v Posts and Telecommunications Corporation 1995 2 ZLR 199 (S)

S v Mbire 1997 1 ZLR 579 (SC)

Tsvangirai v Registrar General of Elections (76/02) 2002 ZWSC 20 (4 April 2002)

United Parties v The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs 1997 2 ZLR 254 (S)

United Parties v The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs 1998 2 BCLR 224 (ZS)


South Africa

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013


Access to Information and Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27]

Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06]

Class Action Act 10 of 1999

Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013

Electoral Act [Chapter 2:01]

Electoral Act (Modification) Notice, Statutory Instrument 41D of 2002

Lancaster House Constitution, 1979

Private Voluntary Organisations Act 22 of 2001 [Chapter 17:05]

Supreme Court Act [Chapter 7:13]

International instruments

African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1981)

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment 9: The Domestic Application of the Covenant UN Doc E/C 12/1998/24 (1998)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Court Rules

Rules of the Constitutional Court (Regulation 1675 of 2003)

Uniform Rules of Court GN R315 (GG 19843) of 12 March 1999

Internet sources

Blom-Cooper 2003

Blom-Cooper L 2003 Mugabe's Judges are Paper Tigers accessed 8 July 2014

Chamboko 2012

Chamboko M 2012 ZANU-PF Ban of NGO's in Zimbabwe Self-Defeating accessed 9 July 2014

Feltoe date unknown

Feltoe G date unknown Whose Hands Were Dirty? An Analysis of the Supreme Court Judgment in the ANZ Case accessed 11 April 2015

FIDH 2012

International Federation for Human Rights 2012 Zimbabwe: On-going Risks for Human Rights Defenders in the Context of the Political Deadlock and Pre-Election Period accessed 9 July 2014

Human Rights Watch 2011

Human Rights Watch 2011 Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe accessed 11 May 2015

ZHRC 2014

Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission 2014 Media Engagement Workshop: Overview of the Mandate and Work of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) accessed 12 January 2016

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 2012

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 2012 A Culture of Impunity in Zimbabwe: A Report on Access to Justice for Survivors of Organized Violence and Torture (OVT) in Zimbabwe accessed 11 May 2015



How to Cite

Chiduza, L., & Makiwane, P. N. (2017). Strengthening Locus Standi in Human Rights Litigation in Zimbabwe: An analysis of the Provisions in the New Zimbabwean Constitution. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 19, 1–29.




Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.