The focus of the Stellenbosch Annual Seminar on Constitutionalism in Africa (SASCA) 2019 will be on “constitutionalism and the economy in Africa.” Africa is the continent with the highest level of poverty in the world. Half of the population lives in poverty, not having access to basic amenities of life such as nutrition, water and shelter. The resulting food insecurity is most often the result of conflict and violence, as well as poor governance.
After nearly three decades of the new wave of constitutional democracy, there is measurable economic growth overall, yet poverty is still rampant and inequality increasing. This raises a number of questions with regard to the nature of the economy, the nature of the state, the relationship between them, as well as the global economic order within in which they have to operate. One element in the mix is constitutions; how is the relationship between the state and the economy structured or managed through a constitution?
Four main levels of inquiry will form the basis of the SASCA 2019 seminar. The first level of inquiry focuses on the constitutions themselves. How do they express different economic models? The second level of inquiry is whether the principles of constitutionalism, where they are embedded in a constitution, have any economic significance. Does the principle of democracy and accountability impact on the mode of the economy, the direction of economic growth, and the broad distribution of its benefits? Thirdly, how does the notion of limited government play out in the economy? Does it mean a market economy that is free from governmental interference? Is it limited to respecting property rights? Fourthly, how does the rule of law – governance under rules and not by arbitrary discretion, which includes the supremacy of the constitution and its justiciability by an independent judiciary – structure and enhance economic growth?
The overall hypothesis to be examined in detail is that the economy and constitutionalism are inextricably linked. An economic constitution not only protects economic interests but also ensures that all fundamental principles of constitutionalism as well as the political system itself are also protected.
The papers presented during the seminar will after extensive review be published in volume 6 of the Stellenbosch Handbooks in African constitutional law.