CHIRWA, DANWOOD MZIKENGE, A full loaf is better than half: the constitutional protection of economic, social and cultural rights in Malawi, Journal of African Law, 49, 2 (2005): 207–241
The last two decades have seen a new wave of constitution-making in Africa as many countries changed from autocracy to democracy. Malawi followed the trend by adopting a new Constitution in 1994 to mark the end of a 30-year, dictatorial one-party regime. This Constitution breaks with traditional constitutions by recognizing economic, social and cultural rights. However, few of these rights are entrenched in the Bill of Rights as justiciable rights. The rest are enshrined as unenforceable principles of national policy. These provisions and the jurisprudence they have generated thus far are discussed critically. It is argued that while the Malawian Constitution deserves acclaim for recognizing these rights, the model adopted for protecting them fails to give full effect to the notion of the indivisibility of all rights and is not good enough for a poor country, which is also in transition to democracy. Not only was Malawi's choice of this model not preceded by a careful and reasoned examination of the existing models and the local circumstances, it was also made without wide public consultations. The ways, based on the existing constitutional provisions, in which the protection of these rights can be improved are explored.