Understanding Constitution – Bank of Knowledge.

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1. Constitution• The supreme law of the land.• The basic law of a state which sets out how that state will be organized, the powers and authorities of government between different political units, and by stating and the basic principles of the society.• In Black Law Dictionary,“ The fundamental and organic law of a nation or state that establishes the institution and system of government, defines the scope of governmental sovereign powers, and guarantees individual civil rights and civil liberties.”• Tomas Paine remark that,“ Government without a Constitution is a power without a right.”constitutionalism-1222820422122714-8-thumbnail-4

2. Constitutionalism• The doctrine or system of government in which the governing power is limited by enforceable rules of law, and concentration of power is limited by various checks and balances so that the basic rights of individuals and groups are protected.• “A commitment to limitations on ordinary political power; it revolves around a political process, one that overlaps with democracy in seeking to balance state power and individual and collective rights; it draws on particular cultural and historical contexts from which it emanates; and it resides in public consciousness.”• Constitutionalism recognizes the need for government with powers but at the same time insists that limitation be placed on those powers. It envisages checks and balances by restraining the powers of governmental organs by not making them uncontrolled and arbitrary.

3. Difference:-• A constitution can be defined as the fundamental laws custom, conventions, rules and regulations, stipulating how a country is governed, while constitutionalism can be defined as a principle which is not just a constitution but put limitations to the activities of individuals and the government.• The implication of constitutionalism is that in exercising its powers the government should be limited by law. Its authority over the people is dependent on its observance of the limitations under the law. Those limitations are usually enshrined in the constitution.

By Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda Sibbs

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