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Africa's female Chief Justices: Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Lesotho, Seychelles

Africa's female Chief Justices: Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Lesotho, Seychelles


Sudan’s Nemat Abdullah Khair on Thursday became one of a small number of female judiciary heads on the African content, following her appointment to the position by the ruling Transitional Sovereignty Council.

This is the first time the Arab Muslim nation will have a female leading the judiciary, which has in the past been accused of enabling former president omar al-Bashir’s regime to suppress dissent and lock up opposition figures.

The Supreme Court Judge was nominated by the judges’ professional association, which was part of a protest movement that helped oust Bashir in April.

Nobody would want to intimidate me simply because I’m a woman.

The 11-member Transitional Sovereignty Council formed in August, also appointed Taj-Elsir Ali, a former prosecutor and lawyer, as the public prosecutor.

The two judicial officials “will carry out their tasks in addressing corruption cases and other cases”, the sovereignty council member spokesman said in a statement without giving details.

A cabinet formed in September included the country’s first female foreign minister, Asmaa Abdallah.

The other female chief justices on the African continent include;


Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed appointed the country’s first female chief justice, Meaza Ashenafi in November last year.

Ashenafi, who founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, EWLA, currently serves as President of the federal Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Ethiopia PM lauded for promoting gender parity


Hon. Dr. Mathilda Twomey is the 7th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles. In 2011, she became the first female judge in the history of the Indian Ocean island-nation, and in 2015 made history as the country’s first female chief justice. Twomey was last year exonerated by an impeachment inquiry that was investigating allegations of abuse against her.


Irene Mambilima has been Zambia’s chief justice since 2015. She had served as deputy chief justice since 2008. Mambilima also oversaw elections in 2006,2011 and 2015 as the country’s electoral commision chairperson. Zambia’s first female chief justice has considerable international experience having served as a sessional judge of the Supreme Court of Gambia, and taken on election observer missions in Liberia, Kenya, Mozambique and Seychelles.


Appointed chief justice of Lesotho in 2014, Nthomeng Justina Majara is the first woman to hold this office.

‘‘I got messages of encouragement from all spectrums of society. I felt honoured and humbled by such a huge vote of confidence in me,’‘Majara told local media when asked about reactions to her appointment.

‘‘I’m notorious for being a very firm person. Nobody would want to intimidate me simply because I’m a woman.’‘

Majara was last year suspended from office, pending an impeachment inquiry against her. She has been temporarily replaced by another woman, Maseforo Mahase as the acting Chief Justice.

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