In 1980 the ZANU/PF government of Robert Mugabe came to power after an extended war of liberation. They inherited a cluster of emergency laws similar to those available to the authorities in South Africa. It was also the beginning of the cynical South African state policy of destabilization of the frontline states. This led to a dangerous period of insurrection in Mashonaland and increased activity by Renamo.
Dr. Hatchard uses the case of Zimbabwe to ask questions about the use of authority in contemporary African states. He examines:
1. Whether and in what circumstances the declaration and retention of a state of emergency is justified;
2.The scope of emergency regulations and their impact on individual freedoms;
3.What safeguards are necessary in order to protect those freedoms during a state of emergency.
The relationship is studied from a political as well as a legal perspective. Dr. Hatchard examines the role law has played, is playing and may play. The author concludes that, even if the state of emergency is justified, this does not necessitate the curtailment of the exercise of individual freedoms.
There are many comparisons with the rest of Africa. The book is of practical importance for members of the judiciary, legal practitioners, politicians and human rights organizations. The difficult questions it poses make stimulating teaching material for students of the Third World who want to understand the reality of the exercise of power in fragile situations.