Corruption, government inefficiency and a lack of transparency and accountability are the major obstacles to developing the rule of law in Africa.
This is the key finding of a first-of-its-kind survey of legal professionals in 24 African countries countries, conducted by online legal news platform Africa Legal and legal, regulatory and business information provider LexisNexis SA.
In the inaugural report entitled “Advancing the Rule of Law in Africa 2021/22”, the Join more than 280 legal professionals – from practicing attorneys and in-house counsel to government employees and members of the judiciary – to understand what the rule of law means in practice and how far it has come. p>
The report’s authors said Africa has long struggled with the problems caused by an underdeveloped rule of law. They said investors are reluctant to fund projects and uncertain about honoring contracts.
They said access to justice is often one-sided, favoring the rich and well-connected.
And corruption is rampant. “According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, six of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world are in Africa.”
The report states that 52% of respondents ranked corruption as the top hurdle contributes to a weakened rule of law.
“Other barriers cited by respondents included a lack of leadership, a lack of education and literacy, and poverty.
“As a Kenyan private practice Lawyer noted that poverty ‘prevents the majority of the population from accessing justice because they cannot afford legal assistance’.”
Respondents also noted that poor or inconsistent enforcement mechanisms undermine development the rule of law.
“A lawyer in private practice in Uganda said that when people see others breaking the law and avoid arrest or not being charged, it can help those people to do so encourage them to break the law too.”
All respondents, including government employees, believed in government, followed by j rule of law.
The survey found that a total of 40% of respondents are optimistic that the rule of law in their countries will improve over the next five years. Rest believe it will either decrease or stay the same.
Kenya is the most optimistic and Nigeria the most pessimistic.LexisNexis SA CEO Videsha Proothveerajh said there is still much work to be done to advance the rule of law in all countries, but based on the findings of the inaugural report there is a need for changes.
“While the Government has to lead from the front, all stakeholders, including the public, lawyers, the judiciary and legal organizations, have to work for this change if our continent is to be legitimate gen place on the global stage,” she said.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to Sunday Mal. Only 20 R for the first month.