The value of participation and legitimacy in the constitution-making processes of post-independence Cameroon and post-apartheid South Africa

Authors Justin Ngambu Wanki

ISSN: 2522-3062
Affiliations: None
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 50 Issue 1, p. 109 – 128


In this article I contend that the Constitution-making process in post-apartheid South Africa provides a suitable paradigm that could enable post-independence Cameroon to break away from the past neo-colonialist and authoritarian ideologies in its future Constitution-making processes. Cameroon’s Constitution-making deficit can be traced back to the independence Constitution-making process which implicitly facilitated neo-colonialism. Conversely, the Constitution-making process in post-apartheid South Africa espoused a break from apartheid, oppression, and authoritarianism. The nature and structures of the resultant Constitutions of the two countries attest to this view. Using the Constitution-making process in post-apartheid South Africa as an appropriate paradigm, I argue for a new trajectory as a response to post-independence Cameroonian Constitutions’ subjection to neo-colonialism and authoritarianism. Inspiration from the South African paradigm of introducing the judiciary into the Constitution-making process is a novelty worthy of emulation by post-independence Cameroon. This paradigm promises greater legitimacy in the Constitution-making process and renders the final Constitution more ‘self-binding’ (binding on Cameroonians). The suitability of the South African paradigm is informed by the imperative to realign post-independence Cameroonian Constitutions with conventional and democratic principles of Constitution-making as exemplified by the post-apartheid South African model. In this way the Constitution-making process in post-independence Cameroon would systematically eradicate the ‘chicanery-approach’ of neo-colonialists and their neo-colonial acolytes, so that the resulting constitution is a manifestation of the will of the people.