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Application and significance of the doctrine of separation of powers in communities as tool

for good governance.

The observance of the doctrine of separation of powers is one of the founding principle listed in
the new constitution of Zimbabwe. This is done to prevent abuse of power and safeguard
freedom for all as it is shown in most cases that unlimited power in the hands of one person
means that the powers of others are curtailed. This investigation seeks to outline the application
and significance of the doctrine for good governance in the community.
The separation of power doctrine means that specific functions, duties and responsibilities are
allocated to distinctive institutions with a defined means of competence and jurisdiction. It is a
separation between and among three distinct arms of government, that is, the executive
(President and Cabinet), the legislature (Parliament), and the judiciary (Courts). The executive
branch enforces, or vetoes the laws that the legislative branch creates, declares states of
emergency, and appoints federal judges, cabinet advisors and heads of other department at the
approval of the Senate. The judicial branch determines which laws apply to specific cases;
reviews constitutionality of laws, and determine interpretations of laws. This forms the
fundamental part of the supreme law.
The doctrine means ordinarily that if one of the three branches of the government is responsible
for the enactment of rules of laws, that body shall not also be charged with the execution or the
judicial decision about them. To guarantee the protection of human rights and limit the power of
the executive, it is essential that the judiciary and the legislature exercise their functions
independently so that no single arm of government has excessive powers that may be open to
abuse. This clearly sets out rules on how government will exercise its authority over the people,
and limitations on such power in the interests of citizens rights.
The main objective of the doctrine is to prevent the abuse of power within different spheres of
the government thus encouraging each sphere to act within its boundary thereby promoting good
governance. Good governance can be political, economic, social and corporate but requires
transparency, equity, justice, promotion of and respect of human rights and popular participation
to free and fair elections.

In Zimbabwe, the principle of separation of powers is tailored into our constitution and is closely
related to the principle of equality before the law, that all persons are equal before the law and
have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
Judge President Makarau sums up the Zimbabwean experience on the application of the doctrine
by noting that it is being grossly violated. This has compromised the independence and the
impartiality of the judiciary, and the vibrancy of the legislature. However, the doctrine was never
meant to be rigid with absolute separation of the arms of government as in practice the three
arms may overlap.
The President is part of the legislature, signing into law Bills from Parliament. It amounts to the
interference to the legislation arm considering that the president is in the executive arm. This
means that the doctrine recognizes the functional independence of the government branches at
the same time focusing on ensuring that the constitutional order as a totality prevents the
branches from usurping power from one another. Therefore requires a system of check and
balance in which the risks of a concentration of powers, and the attendant dangers that go with it,
can be reduced through limited interference by each of the three powers in each other's domain.
The doctrine is imposed to our communities in such a way that it fits the particular system of
government provided for in the constitution which reflects a balance in this new dispensation of
the need to, on one hand, separate powers and enforcing checks and balances and, on other hand,
avoid diffusing power so completely that the government is unable to take timely measures in the
public interests. This becomes the thin line separating good and bad governance.
The doctrine proves to be a tool for good governance due to its significance as it prevents the
abuse of power as the separation of power is accompanied with checks and balance which makes
the different stakeholders accountable to each other. The doctrine powers is an important
guarantor of human rights which is an essential element for any functional democracy. The idea
is to reduce conflicts of interest and inherently increase the number of independent groups who
need to agree before an action can be taken so that one department head cannot simply persecute
someone they dont like. They have to get other departments they dont control to agree. This
greatly improves the consistency of rule of law.

The doctrine clearly demarcates the roles and responsibilities of each party of the three armed
government thus increasing the governments efficiency as the powers are distributed among the
government departments. The departments gain deep knowledge of the matters they deal with
thereby become more efficient.
There is limited government as powers are distributed among different departments. There is a
clear separation of powers and roles between the executive and the judiciary. As stated on
Section 164 of the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed to prevent
interference with its functions by the other two arms of government. It provides that the courts
are independent and are subject only to the constitution and the law, which they must apply
impartially, expeditiously and without fear, favor or prejudice. This means each government arm
enjoy only limited powers.
Liberty and rights of the individuals are protected from different types of despotism and
oppression. It provides that the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the courts are
central to the rule of law and democratic governance, and therefore neither the State nor any
institution or agency of the government at any level, and no other person, may interfere with the
functioning of the courts.
This doctrine increases the level of agreement needed for government to take action which is
contrary to what many seem to think that the separation of power will slow down the
governance. Communities observes the doctrine as a filter where bad actions by one branch can
be blocked by another branch making it an incredibly practical stabilizing force that prevents the
head of one branch from unjustly ignoring the rule of law.

Separation of power is an effective tool for good governance but like in many countries,
communities in Zimbabwe have criticized the doctrine for being impossible as the executive has
some role in rule making, and the legislature also performs some judicial functions. The
increased concern for welfare and security has been responsible for transfer of more powers to
the executive. However, with properly defined set of attributions to the doctrine leads to a system
of checks and balances where only the good decisions are being made and elicit liberty to depend
upon the balance of the three organs of the government.
In the case of Zimbabwe, where the powers are elected (democracy) the set of checks and
balances should work well for the benefit of the people. If there are improperly defined set of
attributions and faulty inception rules they impasse and they can't get anything done. That is why
dictators usually reserve the right of overriding their parliaments, government and courts even
though they delegate power for most scenarios.
The Honorable Mrs. Justice Susan Denham of the Supreme Court of Ireland (as she then was)
stated that: Judicial independence is a precious jewel of democracy, to be guarded and cherished
for the benefit of the people it serves. It is a jewel of the state. It is fundamental to democracy
and the rule of law that the judiciary be strong, to withstand pressure from any quarter. Yet the
judiciary should be of their times and take account of the changing society within which judges
hold office while retaining the core principle of independence. This shows how much the
different arms of the government should be independent of each other, at the same time,
complement each other in creating well governed communities.
Observance of the rule of law is very essential to a country especially in Zimbabwe where we
strong need foreign investment. Foreign investors would want to invest in communities where
they are assured that all are equal before the law and if they take their grievances and disputes to
court they can expect justice and fairness. Therefore, for purposes of good governance, social
and economic development of Zimbabwean communities the government should take clear steps
to restore the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary thus observing the doctrine of
separation of power.

The separation of powers requires leaders who are committed to constitutionalism and
democracy which is critical for community renaissance. The doctrine should ensure that each
organ has clearly stated roles and responsibility and everyone act in accordance so as to
discourage issues like jealousy, suspicion and friction from arising amongst the different arms
which creates confusion, deadlock and disharmony thereby paralyzing the administration of the
arm and derailing the government from the main purpose of the doctrines erection, which is to
develop and protect the fourth and most important arm of the government The Citizens.