Abusive constitutionalism in Africa-a threat to efficient and effective public administration systems?

Article Authors: B. Basheka and Christelle J. Auriacombe


The military coups that once dominated post-independence Africa have been replaced with the threat of abusive constitutionalism, or “constitutional coups”. In abusive constitutionalism, incumbent political leaders use constitutional amendments to establish power. This article argues that the process has implications for building strong administrative systems.

In a bid to establish a firm power base, incumbent leaders undermine the institutional systems of accountability and focus on their own positions. Prospective autocrats have used constitutional amendments and replacements in a number of African countries to undermine democracy.

These leaders have made subtle constitutional changes to entrench their positions and to disable administrative institutions, courts and other accountability institutions with the help of their supporters. However, in some African countries, leaders have respected their countries …

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