Constitution-Building in Africa
de Visser, Jaap
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The process towards the adoption of a constitution is determined by the context in which the constitution is written. It navigates such issues as political engagement, keeping politically agreed timelines, ensuring the inclusion of a variety of constituencies and groups, the use of domestic and foreign technical expertise, and ensuring legitimacy and public awareness. This book examines examples of constitution-making processes around the continent and how they attempt(ed) to accommodate the many interests at play. As such, the chapters offer a range of different constitution-making narratives. In Zimbabwe, the Global Political Agreement (GPA) provided for a parliamentary select committee, co-chaired by the three main political parties, to lead the drafting of a constitutional text. The process included public hearings and a referendum. In the case of Malawi, all of its five constitutional review projects were initiated by the presidential appointment of a constitutional review commission or technical drafting committee. The drafting of the country’s 1966 Constitution took place primarily under the auspices of the ruling Malawi Congress Party; the 1995 constitutional review process was led by a National Consultative Council and consisted of various consultative processes. While this review was markedly more inclusive, it still lacked legitimacy. The making of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution was, by all accounts, impressive in its inclusivity. With the horrors of the 2007/2008 post-election violence engraved in collective memory, and the experience of the impressive consultation, led by the Ghai Commission, still fresh in mind, Kenya’s Constitution was drafted on the basis of extensive consultation.