Democracy is a government of a community in which all citizens have the right and opportunity to effectively participate in affairs of the State
*by Edward Madziwa
A constitutional democracy is one where the people get to decide who their leaders are through participation in periodic elections in the exercise of the right to self-determination and that the rights and freedoms of individuals are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution from an overbearing state authority. In a constitutional democracy, the constitution is the supreme law of the land.
In the same vein, democracy is the form of government where the government or leaders are elected by the people and such leaders are mandated to serve the interests of the people whom they govern and those who voted them into power. In other words, democracy is a government of, by and for the people. It is a government of a community in which all citizens rather than a few privileged and elite minority have the right and opportunity to effectively participate in the internal affairs of the state.
Given the foregoing definitions, democracy means to me, firstly, that it is grounded in the principle of popular sovereignty in which the people are considered as the ultimate source of the authority of the government which derives the right to govern from their consent. In this regard, the will of the people is the ultimate source of power. Secondly that the government does not have absolute power to do as it pleases as its powers are limited by law and a written or unwritten constitution which those in power are expected to obey, protect, and respect for the effective protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons.
Thirdly, democracy means the existence of institutional and procedural limitations on power which include but are not limited to the existence of the separation of powers doctrine which stipulates the separation of powers amongst the different branches or arms of government with each arm having a primary responsibility for certain functions either legislative, executive or judicial; the existence of checks and balances whereby the various arms of government possesses adequate power to check the powers of other arms of government and these may include for example the power of courts to declare actions of other arms of government to be contrary to the constitution and therefore null and void. Fourthly, democracy to me, means the existence of leadership succession through elections which are conducted periodically and thereafter the transfer of governmental power in a peaceful and orderly process.
Fifthly democracy to me means the observance of the rule of law which means that everyone is expected to observe and follow the law and that no one is above the law. It means that all persons, public and private institutions, and entities, are accountable to the existing laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.
Sixthly, democracy to me means the guarantee, protection, promotion, and enforcement of the rights of all individuals at all levels of society.
*Edward Madziwa is a holder of a Bachelor of Laws Honours Degree attained in 2019 from Midlands State University. He is currently studying Masters (LLM) in Constitutional and Human Rights Law at Midlands State University. Currently, he is also employed as a Human Rights Officer at the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission under its Complaints Handling and Investigations Department. Edward is passionate about Human Rights, Justice, Peace, Democracy and Development.