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John Mukum Mbaku

Africa’s struggle against mass poverty and deprivation is examined using a constitutional political economy approach. It is argued that the failure of many African countries to deal effectively with poverty is due to the fact that since independence, these countries have not been able to engage in democratic constitution making to provide themselves with institutional arrangements that guarantee the rule of law. Such institutions must adequately constrain civil servants and political elites, enhance peaceful coexistence, and provide an enabling environment for the creation of wealth. The process to reconstruct and reconstitute African states has been on going since decolonization. The Arab awakening, which began in North Africa, and the pro-democracy demonstrations of the mid-1980s and early-1990s, are a continuation of this effort to secure the laws and institutions that enhance the creation of wealth and provide an enabling environment for the eventual eradication of poverty. Unless the African countries provide themselves with institutional arrangements that guarantee the rule of law, poverty will remain pervasive.

John Mukum Mbaku

Abstract

This paper examines strategies for peaceful coexistence in the African countries, more effective participation of the African economies in the global economy, and sustainable economic growth and development in the new century and beyond. Three strategies are recommended: development in each country of an efficient and self-enforcing constitution; constitutional guarantee of economic freedoms, including the right of individuals to freely engage in exchange and contract; and a change in present trading patterns. Presently, most African countries export raw materials, forest products, minerals, and goods produced with cheap, unskilled and primarily uneducated labor. The paper recommends that African countries move away from specialization in the export of primary commodities towards specialization in the production of knowledge intensive goods using skilled and educated labor services. National policies in these countries should be directed at providing facilities for citizens to acquire the specialized skills and knowledge needed to help these countries switch to knowledge intensive industries.

John Mukum Mbaku

Abstract

This paper examines Africa's present transition to democracy and recommends that constitutional discourse be taken much more seriously in order to avoid the problems of the past thirty years. At independence, Africans chose institutional arrangements that were inefficient, weak, and not particularly viable. Today, Africans have another opportunity to device new institutional arrangements to lead them into the new century. If this opportunity is properly utilized, each country will be able to establish institutions that maximize the participation of all citizens in national development.

John Mukum Mbaku

Abstract

In more than forty years, the modern African state has either been unwilling or unable to perform its productive and protective functions. Today, most Africans continue to suffer from high rates of poverty and deprivation. Part of the problem can be traced to the fact that the laws and institutions that the African countries adopted at independence endowed post-independence leaders with almost unlimited power to intervene in private exchange and enhanced their ability to engage in opportunism. Thus, in the post-independence society, rent seeking, bureaucratic corruption, and other opportunistic behaviors became endemic. It is argued that the main reason why the African state has been unwilling to perform its expected duties has been due to the existence of poor incentive systems. A reconstruction of the state in order to establish constitutionally limited governments and economic systems in which individuals are guaranteed the right to engage in exchange and contract is recommended.

Judicial Independence, Constitutionalism and Governance in Cameroon

Lessons from French Constitutional Practice

John Mukum Mbaku

Countries incorporate the principle of the separation of powers, including judicial independence, into their constitutions in an effort to meet several goals, the most important of which is to minimise government-induced tyranny. Specifically, countries that make this principle part of their constitutional practice intend to limit public servants by national laws and institutions, enhance government accountability, minimise opportunistic behaviors by civil servants and politicians, provide for checks and balances, and generally improve government efficiency. Cameroon, part of which was colonised by France, has a constitution that is modeled closely on the French Constitution of 4 October 1958. As a consequence, the country has adopted France’s hybrid system of the separation of powers. Using French constitutional practice as a model, this paper examines constitutional developments in Cameroon to determine why the country’s governing process, which is based on the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, has failed to guarantee constitutional justice.

JOHN MUKUM MBAKU

ABSTRACT

Cameroon's stalled transition to democracy is examined. It is argued that most of Cameroon's present political and economic problems can be traced to non-democratic constitutionalism at independence. Elite-driven, top-down, non-participatory constitutionalism left the country with institutional arrangements that discouraged entrepreneurship but enhanced political opportunism (e.g., rent seeking and corruption). In addition, it is shown that the inability of the country's main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), to successfully lead the country's transformation has been due to many factors. Some of them include poor and fractured leadership, political miscalculations, rivalry within the party and between the party and other opposition parties, Biya's political acumen, and strong French support for the incumbent government. The most important first step toward successful institutionalization of democracy is state reconstruction through people-driven, participatory and inclusive constitution making. Unless such a process is undertaken, Cameroon will not be able to provide itself with the enabling environment to deepen, consolidate and institutionalize democracy, as well as deal effectively with pressing issues such as the desire by the Anglophone minority for greater levels of political and economic autonomy.