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Part I Introductory Overview, 1 The Relationship between Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa: Concepts, Conflicts, and Hypotheses

Nico Steytler

From: Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa

Edited By: Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 27 October 2020

This chapter discusses the relationship between decentralisation and constitutionalism in Africa and the issues surrounding their dialectic. Constitutionalism encapsulates values and goals. In its liberal-democratic form, constitutionalism bears the following meaning: in terms of a constitution, state power is limited, exercised in a democratic, accountable manner, and executed in a non-arbitrary way through a system of enforceable rules. In the African context, the argument is that such a goal is too limited: constitutionalism should also entail the purposive use of state power to make society more egalitarian and prosperous. Although it does not sport an ‘ism’, decentralisation is no less value-laden and idealistic. It is championed for deepening democracy, enhancing development, countering the abuse of centralised governance, and accommodating diversity. As such, it is apparent that decentralisation befits an African approach to constitutionalism.

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