Here we post news and developments from within, and affecting, Judiciaries in Africa
Originally I met Judge Oagile Key Dingake via his decisions. Trawling through the judgments he had delivered during his time on the bench of Botswana, I began to form an idea of who the person behind these decisions would be.
Judicial accountability takes on an additional dimension in an era of online access. Sure, judges are held accountable through the judgments they write. But in an era of online access those judgments need to be available and in the public domain as soon as possible.
Chief Justice Irene Mambilima of Zambia, invited to address the country’s women accountants, said that the theme of the symposium which focused on women in leadership roles, was one dear to her heart.
As Africa and many other parts of the world threaten to explode with anger over the rape of children and women, femicide and other forms of gender-based violence, the highest court of Seychelles has scored an important addition to its ranks. This judge brings a particular knowledge of and sensitivity to the growing problem of violence against women from her academic work as well as her experience on the highest court of her home country.
Magistrates in Lesotho are clearly unhappy. This year they have already tried repeated strikes to highlight their concerns but without success - promises made to them have come to nothing.
Then, this week, representatives of the magistracy from across Lesotho met in Maseru and took a number of decisions likely to impact on the functioning of the courts and the legal system throughout the country.
Controversies tied to the judiciary in Lesotho continued unabated this week. First shock was that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane renewed his attempt to have the Court of Appeal president, Kananelo Mosito, suspended pending an inquiry into his behaviour. It is Thabane's second attempt in just a few weeks, and follows shortly after the appeal court had ruled that Thabane could not again threaten Judge Mosito with suspension on the basis of a letter of complaint written by the Acting Chief Justice.
Judge Michael Ramodibedi, who died earlier this month, was appointed to the bench in Lesotho during 1986. During the next years, he also served as a judge in a number of other countries, authoring decisions in the Seychelles and Boswana among others. During 2008 he was elevated to the position of Lesotho’s Court of Appeal president, and at the same time he served on the court of appeal in what is now Eswatini.
The ongoing crisis in Lesotho's judiciary, involving internal tensions as well as problems between the judiciary and the country's political leadership, has been taken off the boil - at least for now. This follows a last-minute settlement of several high-profile cases that, had they continued, would have destroyed all semblance of judicial independence and were set to create a constitutional crisis.
You know the legal community had better wake up and pay proper attention when a country’s highest court makes a comment like this: “It is about time counsel and parties alike appearing before this court took decisions, directions and guidelines issued by it seriously and complied strictly with them.”
This interview was first published in SwazilandNews and is republished here in full for convenience.
MBABANE - "Where the people lose confidence in the courts, then we revert to the survival of the fittest, where the muscular and the armed wield the power over others and cannot be reined in"