APRM too broke to operate

The African Peer Review Mechanism workshop
The African Peer Review Mechanism workshop

The African Peer Review Mechanism secretariat is struggling to finance its operations and was recently forced to suspend a review exercise of Djibouti in East Africa. Other review exercises have also been suspended.

Professor Mustapha Mekideche told representatives from over 30 Africa states gathering in Gaborone this week that, member states are not paying their annual subscriptions, while others are reluctant to accede to the initiative.

“The funding challenge is so serious that we were forced to postpone assessment of some countries. It is embarrassing. Member states should appreciate that it is important to pay up the dues before we can approach our funding partners,” professor Mekideche said on Wednesday.

The APRM initiative is a systematic examination and assessment of the performance of a state by other states with a goal of helping the reviewed state improve its policy making, adopt best practices and comply with established standards and principles.

It is a voluntary initiative established in 2003 under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the brainchild of former South African President Thabo Mbeki under his African Renaissance flagship.

The gathering was told that 34 countries have acceded to the initiative, while others are reluctant to accede, among them Botswana.

Through the APRM initiative, member states are able to review each other’s good governance practices and share ideas on strengths and weaknesses they may have identified in one country.

Mekideche told the meeting that because of the change of governments over the years, some member states refuse to be reviewed, while others make all excuses not to be reviewed.

He said that for Africa to succeed in regional integration, there has to be a common understanding of each country’s challenges, successes, and that policies should be harmonised to accommodate changes in the continent.

He said that the other challenge they are facing is lack of ownership of the initiative by the civil society and politicians.

“The population of this continent should own this initiative through the civil society. It is not an initiative by governments, but by the citizenry. Opposition parties, women, and youth should be represented when a review is being conducted, it should be inclusive,” he said. He stated that reviews have potential to reduce incidents of corruption.

However, Mekideche acknowledged that at the time of its implementation the APRM secretariat, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, did not involve regional blocks such as Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East African Community, and the Magreb.

He said that the Africa 2063 Agenda lays out plans to take the continent to a higher level of development and job creation for the citizens.

He said that many African countries have succeeded in many respects, citing Mauritius as a true example of good governance from which fellow African countries can learn a lot. He revealed that during their review of the country, though, they found serious economic disparities between the Indian population and the Blacks.  He added that Botswana is a good example in the mining sector, and therefore other African countries could learn one or two things from it.

Some participants argued that it was going to be difficult for reviews to be conducted with the involvement of opposition parties, saying that the political culture in the continent shows that opposition and ruling parties are always at loggerheads over policies.

“Opposition don’t accept best practices, they are always looking forward to scoring good points against the sitting government,” one speaker said.

It also emerged at the gathering that countries like Ghana and Kenya are performing very well economically and politically after they acceded to the initiative.

The conference was organised by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), the African Regional Office of the Open Society Foundations (AfRO) and the Southern African Development Community Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO), in collaboration with the continental African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) regional secretariat in South Africa.

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