n Malawi Law Journal - Governance, human rights and the public sphere in Africa : the case of Zimbabwe




This paper is set within the context of the ongoing debate on the concept of the public sphere within Africa. It will be argued that the debate about the African public sphere is contingent upon the existence of guaranteed rights and freedoms such as the freedom of assembly and association and the freedom of expression. Such a guarantee provides an enabling environment within which Africa can begin to explore the concept of the public sphere. Though most African states have ratified international instruments that protect human rights, in most instances, the enjoyment of such rights is not guaranteed. The recent political developments in Zimbabwe provide a modern-day prototype of the extent to which the concept of the public sphere can be eroded if rights and freedoms are not guaranteed. It is further argued that when public opinion is eroded, the citizenry is inevitably coerced into submission. The erosion of the public sphere and the silence of the citizens become a fertile ground for the African states to become subjected to dictatorships and other ills which are engulfing the African continent even in the 21st century.


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