Beyond the Traditional Courts Bill: Regulating customary courts in line with living customary law and the Constitution
This article discusses flaws in the Traditional Courts Bill in light of research that shows customary courts to operate in accordance with a model that is very different from that adopted by the Bill. Customary courts are not professional institutions but community-based discussion forums, thus participation in them is inclusive of the broad community membership, and their accountability is partly dependent on people's ability to choose to use them, or other forums, when their own courts are unjust. The article therefore develops a framework for regulating customary courts that gives recognition to their essential elements as understood through prior study of diverse courts. The framework advanced is also one that gives greater expression to rights (to democracy, gender equality and freedom of association, or choice) articulated in the Constitution.