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Watch the second joint webinar of the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa at the University of Cape Town and Democracy in Africa now. Check back soon for details of the next webinar.

An independent well-functioning judiciary is critical for the implementation of the rule of law, and critical for the endurance of democracy. Yet, judiciaries do not operate in a vacuum. They are often exposed to interference from other branches of government, while at the same time, facing severe financial constraints and internal power struggles. In this webinar, O’Brien Kaaba, Beatrice Mtetwa, and Chris Oxtoby provide new insights into the many challenges that judiciaries in southern Africa face by sharing both first-hand accounts as well as findings from recent academic research.

Panellists: O’Brien Kaaba (University of Zambia), Beatrice Mtetwa (Human Rights Lawyer), Chris Oxtoby (University of Cape Town) 

Chair: Nic Cheeseman (University of Birmingham)

Chris Oxtoby shares findings from the recently published State of the Judiciary report that he co-authored with his colleagues at the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town (…). Focusing on the perspective of judges in Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa, he explores 1) The impact of political pressure on judges, and 2) the major challenges judges face on a daily basis both at their court and within the judiciary more broadly.

Next, O’Brien Kaaba analyses the role of the Zambian judiciary in refereeing legal matters that arose during the 2021 general elections, before providing a candid assessment of the performance of the Zambian Constitutional Court.

Beatrice Mtetwa provides a first-hand account of what it means to fight for the rule of law and against political interference in Zimbabwe. Operating in a political context that is markedly different than that in Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, she highlights how the government undermines the rule of law, how the ruling party uses the courts to fight out internal battles, and how the courts have become less independent since the end of the Mugabe regime.

Additional resources on each presenter:

O’Brien Kaaba: Overview of recent publications, link.

Beatrice Mtetwa: Profile, link.

Chris Oxtoby: State of the Judiciary reports, link. 

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