Sub-national Governance, Law Enforcement and Oversight in Five African Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia

In April 2023, Africa Criminal Justice Reform (ACJR) launched a webinar series on sub-national governance and the criminalisation of poverty and status. ACJR, hereby cordially invites you to the third installment of the above series focusing on ‘Sub-national Governance, Law Enforcement and Oversight in Five African Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia’. The webinar will unpack issues relating to sub-national law enforcement, highlighting concerns regarding a general lack of oversight mechanisms for monitoring and accountability, and discussing the implications for practice and law reform at a sub-national level.

Most African countries are central states, with the exception of a few being federal or quasi-federal. The enforcement of laws is generally undertaken by national police services and in circumstances of emergency or disaster, by the military. In States where provisions for sub-national law enforcement exist, this falls within the ambit of either provincial, municipal, district or council police depending on how power is devolved. However, not all States have provisions for law enforcement at sub-national level, resulting in national police regulating and enforcing minor offences relating to, amongst others, public spaces. In such States, there is a tendency for the formation of a diverse range of enforcement agencies at local level with unclear mandates that tend to conduct their work along certain political and ethnic lines.

Where provisions exist for sub-national law enforcement, these officials are typically not mandated to deal with serious crime and their powers are typically focussed on traffic laws, municipal by-laws; and in certain contexts, crowd management and monitoring public spaces such as city markets. Such local law enforcement officials usually answer to the respective county, district or municipality to which they are assigned. It is also commonly the case that they are underpaid and inadequately trained, leading to rights violations in enforcement, which is often targeted to vulnerable groups, such as women, migrants, and homeless persons and people making a living in public spaces, such as street and market vendors and touts. Moreover, sub-national enforcement is often accompanied by a combination of formal penalties (fines, impoundment, and confiscation) and informal penalties (bribes and extortion). Unfortunately, the lack of effective oversight of local law enforcement agencies often results in impunity of officials and locals having nowhere to turn to for redress.

When: Aug 30, 2023 from 10:00 AM to 11:45 AM (Africa/Johannesburg / UTC200)

Facilitator: Kristen Petersen (ACJR)


  • Janelle Mangwanda (ACJR)
  • Rommy Mom (Lawyers Alert – Nigeria)
  • Jean Redpath (ACJR)
  • Peter Njoroge (City Street Vendors Empowerment Programme – Kenya)

Following registration, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Contact NameCrystal Nitsckie
ACJR wishes to acknowledge the Open Society Foundations and the Sigrid Rausing Trust for making this webinar possible.