The Rising Power Of The Judiciary In Africa


A silent revolution is taking place on the African continent without the world noticing it. It is important for the developments to be featured in the public space so that the world will take notice. This is the only way Africa can be repositioned in world geopolitics as a path breaker in building democracy.

Many people conceive democracy as the power of the mob. In short, wherever the majority decides the minority must obey. It is now very clear that democracy means more than majority. Democracy requires the building of society founded on law, a society where the actions of all must be dictated by the law. Hence power is not concentrated in the hands of the majority. It is in fact deposited in the hands of the institutions of the state. These institutions guide people on the lawful way to exercise their rights.

The judiciary is the key institution capable of ensuring the rule of law in a democracy. In the past, the military overshadowed the judiciary in determining the outcome of political rivalry between political parties or opponents. The street has also served its own means of deciding political outcomes.

Recently democracy has taken root in many African countries, thus giving the judiciary greater authority to act with independence and impartiality. A clear example is the election in Kenya, where the judiciary decided the political outcome of the presidential elections. In Malawi the judiciary has called for fresh elections. In The Gambia the judiciary has barred the president from removing nominated members from office. In this regard, the judiciary is coming off-age and its members need more self-reflection and greater commitment to the principle of independence and impartiality in all their undertakings.