Posted: 11 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 2015
Constitutional amendment remains a source of ongoing academic and political contestation. Although in some cases the rigidity of formal amendment rules has produced debates over the impact of judicial interpretation as a substitute for amendment, in other cases amendments remain highly controversial or existing constitutional provisions remain unimplemented owing to continuing social, economic, or political pressures. This review both explores the continuing theoretical debates over the idea of constitutional amendment and uses the examples of historic land conflicts in South Africa and Zimbabwe to demonstrate the interaction between existing constitutional provisions, formal amendments, and ongoing demands over land and property rights. By providing both an overview of the theoretical debates as well as a contextual application, this review aims to demonstrate the importance of a contextually grounded, sociolegal understanding of the phenomena of constitutional amendment, stasis, and change.
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