Several African countries have found it almost insurmountable to extricate from the vicious tentacles of colonialism. Colonialism has had far-reaching consequences on the African psyche, and most of this is deeply embedded in the legal systems of Africa.
African countries still heavily rely on colonial-era laws as the bulk of their legislation. But this is something Rwanda has decided to put an end to.
The East African country has abolished more than 1,000 colonial-era laws. There is absolutely no need to religiously stick to colonial legal instruments that have no purpose to the people of the land. The bold step that Rwanda has taken should be an example to other African countries so that they can reform their legal systems in line with the current desire of people. It is pointless to cling on to colonial laws.
In other African countries, some of the colonial laws serve the purposes of silencing the people and repressing them, making the difference between the colonists and the current leaders very blurry.
Three months ago, there were deliberations to repeal colonial-era laws in Rwanda. Parliament has now passed a law that repeals all the obsolete pieces of law.
Rwanda was a colony of Germany from 1900 to 1916, then became a colony of Belgium from 1916 to 1962. And it is clear these laws only acted in the interests of the colonizers.
"There are no legal loopholes that can emerge as a result of repealing them. These are not laws that we should be proud of keeping. We don’t see a problem in repealing them," said the State Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana.
Some of the laws repealed include the decree of July 22, 1930, which provided a strict prohibition on giving alcoholic beverages on credit or for free. Enacted in 1930, the law provided that alcoholic drinks consumed on the point of their sale had to be paid for at the bar and traders were not allowed to sell the alcoholic drinks on credit or provide them for free.
The other laws gave space to the Church to take up as much land as it could. This resulted in massive land grabs that prejudiced the local people of Rwanda. The Catholic Church obtained a lot of land. As it stands, this land is still in the hands of the church. This was put into effect by a decree of January 24, 1943, on free assignments and concessions to scientific and religious associations and public utility establishments by the Belgian government.
Such laws have become extremely archaic and it is time to do away with them.
Other African countries should follow this sort of exemplary leadership because legal systems cannot continue being operated on the premise of colonial-era laws. It is an injustice to the people of Africa.
“Colonial laws were made for the colonial metropole, not for colonies. They were brought to the colonies to be the legal framework to service the colonial state," said Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye.
"This step finally means that we are and will be governed by laws made by us for us."
Header image credit - BBC