latest content

Court finds against ‘back door emergency’ in Malawi

A constitutional court in Malawi has delivered an unequivocal condemnation of that country’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations. In its decision last week, the three judges found that the rules were unconstitutional as they were made in terms of a law that did not permit such rules to be made. They also criticised the government for imposing a lockdown without concern for the poor of Malawi who would not have access to food and other essentials if they could not leave their homes.

Kenya pressurised by big oil to backtrack on plastic ban

An alarming new series of reports in the international media claims that the US oil and petro-chemical lobby is putting considerable pressure on Kenya to roll back its environmental protections related to plastic waste. The report has led to strong reaction by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Kenya has played a leading anti-pollution role in Africa, for example with its 2017 ban on the manufacture, sale and distribution of plastic bags.


Read statement by African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

For years Africa, and Kenya in particular, has played a central role for businesses involved in the manufacture of plastic. And while conservation activists have been urging that the world should move away from plastic, major oil companies want to make more plastic – and they need new markets for their products.

High Court grants bail to Zimbabwe opposition leader, journalist

Two prisoners in one of Zimbabwe’s most notorious jails have been making international headlines as the courts repeatedly denied them bail. This week, however, as South Africa prepared to send a delegation to discuss the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, and as the number of international political and legal statements critical of the continued imprisonment continued to grow, the two men were released on the orders of the high court.

Read judgment

After more than a month in jail, two of Zimbabwe’s most high-profile prisoners were released on bail this week. Both had been refused bail by the same magistrate, and both were finally released on bail on the orders of two different judges on grounds that were remarkably similar.

Change company law to allow virtual AGMs, Uganda high court urges

The high court in Uganda has urged that the government change the law to make it easier for businesses to hold their annual general meetings online, or via a mixture of a physical and electronic meeting. This is to take account of the restrictions on gatherings, due to Covid-19, imposed by the government on the one hand, and, on the other, the legal requirement that companies must hold AGMs. For the last few months in Uganda, individual companies have been coming to court asking for judicial authorisation to hold electronic meetings.

Read judgment

It is not often that a judge’s obiter remarks are the most significant part of a decision – after all, the whole point of flagging remarks as ‘obiter’ is to indicate that they are made merely in passing. But the case of Uganda Clays, heard by Judge Ssekaana Musa and with judgment delivered on August 17, might just be the exception that proves the rule.

SCA cases show up long delays in delivering judgments

Two new decisions by Malawi’s highest court show that at least some of the country’s judges are still not delivering decisions within a reasonable time. In one case a group of people convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison were still waiting to hear the outcome of an appeal heard more than five years before. In the other, a man convicted of robbery had still not heard the result of his appeal over 37 months later.

Read Mekiseni judgment (August 2020):

Read Mthawanji judgment (July 2020): 

Malawi’s Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda is something of a folk hero. He enjoyed that profile even before the then-President, Peter Mutharika, tried to fire him.

For Kenya: celebration of its 10-year-old constitution, a growing crisis – and a forthright judge speaks

As Kenya celebrated the 10th anniversary of its constitution, with virtual seminars, webinars and other discussions, one of the most serious challenges yet brought under the constitution is making its way through the courts. That problem is the failure of the country’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, to appoint more than 40 judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission. And, equally significant, his failure to abide by a court order that the judges be appointed.

Read judgment, August 2020

Read judgment, February 2020

 

'Judicial independence on trial’ in case involving Malawi’s Chief Justice

Malawi’s high court has decided that attempts by the country’s former President, Peter Mutharika, to get rid of the Chief Justice and other senior judges by placing them on enforced leave pending retirement, were illegal and unconstitutional. The decision, delivered this week, followed major local and international support for the judiciary of Malawi, after the announcement of the former President’s steps against its leadership.

Read judgment

For everyone involved, either directly or as a concerned onlooker, with judicial events in the days before Malawi’s June elections, the judgment delivered this week by Judge Charles Mkandawire will come as a great relief and vindication.

Victory for pregnant women after rethink by Constitutional Court

Uganda’s constitutional court has delivered a major victory for the health of pregnant women. The case was brought by the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development, along with a health law expert and the relatives of two women who had died in childbirth because of Uganda’s inadequate maternal healthcare conditions. Five constitutional court judges found that the government was underfunding maternal healthcare to the extent that it was unconstitutional.

New head of judiciary for Uganda

Following the retirement of Uganda’s chief justice, Bart Katureebe, the country’s judiciary has a new leadership team. The new Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice were announced by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. His official decision came as no surprise as the names had been openly known and discussed for some time before the official announcement. 

Judge Alfonse Owiny Dollo, who had been Deputy Chief Justice under the retired leader, now takes over as Chief Justice of Uganda. The new deputy to Justice Owiny Dollo is a member of the Supreme Court, Judge Richard Buteera.

The new Chief Justice has a number of major challenges facing him. These include the perception of corruption on the bench, a perception greatly increased by the recent US State Department announcement that two Ugandan judges were involved in serious bribery and corruption related to an adoption scam.

Judge Key Dingake in new top post

A long-standing member of faculty of the Judicial Institute for Africa, Justice Key Dingake, has been sworn in as a member of the Seychelles Court of Appeal.

Judge Oagile Bethuel Key Dingake has met many members of the African judiciary during his teaching stints as a member of faculty of the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa). He has been most recently working in Papua New Guinea where he was a member of the Supreme and National Courts. Last week, however, he was sworn in as a members of the Court of Appeal of the Seychelles.

Pages