The Right to Life as an Alternative Avenue for the Enforcement of the Right of Access to Adequate Housing in Zimbabwe

Author: Justice Alfred Mavedzenge

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: BA LLB LLM PhD, Researcher at the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town, Legal Advisor at the International Commission of Jurists
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 31 Issue 2, 2020, p. 344 – 373


The Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 (“Constitution”) does not expressly guarantee every person the right of access to adequate housing, yet the country is bedevilled with an acute national housing crisis. However, the Constitution guarantees the right to life for every person and requires that the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights be interpreted in a manner which best protects and promotes the constitutional value of human dignity. It also requires courts to interpret constitutional rights in a manner which promotes the fulfilment of international obligations arising from treaties and conventions which Zimbabwe has signed and ratified. The Constitution also requires courts to interpret constitutional rights in a way that incorporates state policy objectives enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution. In this article, I engage with these constitutional rules of interpretation and demonstrate that they allow the right to life to be interpreted in a way that incorporates the right of access to adequate housing in Zimbabwe. Given that Zimbabwean courts are yet to develop their own jurisprudence on the interpretation of the right to life, I make considerable reference to foreign case law from comparative jurisdictions, namely South Africa and India, although I also critically engage with counter-arguments from other jurisdictions.