From October 30-November 1, 2019, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) participated in the Fourth African Judicial Dialogue in Kampala, Uganda. The dialogue was organized by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. It brought together judicial institutions of the African human rights system and representatives of national jurisdictions, regional courts and other continental human rights bodies. Participants included the chief justices of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
IFES Manatt Fellow Tinashe Hofisi delivered his presentation on the second day of the dialogue during the session on election petitions, human rights and the role of the judiciary. His paper focused on the presidential election petitions in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
African jurisdictions are increasingly giving apex courts exclusive jurisdiction to determine presidential election petitions. Hofisi’s presentation explored this new jurisdiction and the relationship between the dynamic nature of election petitions and the structural rigidity of apex courts. Judges showed a keen interest in election dispute resolution, particularly in the way the presentation focused less on whether elections were overturned and more on the interplay between jurisdictional tools and judicial outcomes. The dialogue ended with the adoption of a communique that recommended training programs for judicial officials to enhance knowledge of electoral laws and to facilitate timely resolution of electoral disputes.