SA’s ex-president, Jacob Zuma, already in hot water with pending corruption charges and a court order that he must personally pay some of his massive legal costs, has again become the target of serious criticism from SA’s Constitutional Court. This time the country’s highest court was considering an application to set aside Zuma’s decision backing the dissolution of the SADC Tribunal, a crucial regional rights forum, based in Windhoek, Namibia. The application also asked that his agreement to a “protocol” establishing an effectively toothless body, barred from considering petitions from individuals, be declared invalid. The court said Zuma had the duty to uphold rights, not abandon them, as he had done in this case, and ordered that his presidential ratification of the “protocol” be withdrawn.
With Ghana’s constitution limiting the role of the courts in certain matters related to traditional leadership, judges are not always sure of when they may intervene to right wrongs. But in the case of Nana Abor Yamoah II, and a dispute about his name being removed from the register of chiefs, the supreme court has made something very clear: there has to be justification for action like expunging names, the process has to be fair and involve a hearing, or else the courts would be entitled to intervene and impose their “supervisory authority”.
Zambia’s highest court has given the country’s president, Edgar Lungu, the go-ahead to serve a third term in office if he wishes. This judicial permission for the president to take a step regarded as contentious by many in Zambia, came by way of a judgment that had as its core the definition of a presidential “term”. The court found that a president may serve only two terms. However, sections of the constitution provided that a third term of less than three years, served as a stand-in president when the previous president could no longer function, did not count in computing the two terms. According to the court, a president would thus normally serve a maximum of 10 years but a full term of office could vary between eight and 13 years, depending on the circumstances. Though this was the main work of the court in this matter, the judges also issued a stiff warning to people not to “attack” judges “related to matters before the court”, adding that if they did so, they could face serious consequences.
When Victoire Ingabire was released from jail during September 2018, some of her many followers described her as the “Nelson Mandela” of Rwanda. She immediately called for other political prisoners to be freed in addition to those released with her. She said she was prepared to return to prison if that was the price to be paid to win freedom of speech and human rights in Rwanda. This week the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights awarded Ingabire significant reparations for the infringement of her rights by Rwanda and ordered that state to pay the reparations in full within six months or face escalating interest.
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