When Judicial Review Becomes a Fading Shadow of Constitutional Democracy: Toward a Comparative Understanding of Judicial Review in Cameroon and Post-Apartheid South Africa


This paper relates to the ineffectiveness of the judicial review mechanism in Cameroon. The Constitutional Council is an organ charged with testing powers of the constitutionality of laws created by the 1996 Constitution. This mechanism is juxtaposed with the same mechanism in post-apartheid South Africa with the intention of demonstrating that while the Constitutional Court in South Africa has succeeded to be a watchdog of human rights with the assistance of the judicial review mechanism, the Constitutional Council in Cameroon is neither a watchdog nor a policy maker compared to its French counterpart. The Constitutional Court protects the constitution against unconstitutional majority opinion. The transition to democracy was viewed to be susceptible to a shift from authoritarianism to rule of law and a constitutional dispensation constrained by judicial review. Contrary to the aspiration of the Cameroonian citizenry, the 1996 constitution provided for a genre of limited judicial review mechanism which can only be seen as a mere façade intended to obfuscate the interest to nip constitutional adjudication in the bud. On the other hand, South Africa has a genuine democracy which ensured human dignity was restored and made the respect for human rights a fundamental part of its democracy. The Court can strike down a posterior act of Parliament. Judicial review in South Africa has contributed in the control of majority rule. S v Makwanyane is an illustration par excellence of the control of popular opinion which favoured the enforcement of a death penalty.

Author Information
Justin Ngambu Wanki, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ECSS2014
Stream: Politics

This paper is part of the ECSS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon