South Africa will soon come full circle in its assessment as part of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The country has begun preparation for the second generation review after completing the first one in 2007.
The review is a self-assessment created by African leaders in 2003 under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development to promote good governance, economic development and social progress.
It is widely regarded as an innovative approach designed and implemented by Africans for Africa.
Participation and compliance is voluntary. It demonstrates the commitment of the leadership of the respective African countries to good governance and public accountability.
There are 33 African Union Member States participating in the APRM process of which 17 have been reviewed by their peers.
The APRM involves a self-assessment guided by an APRM questionnaire. At the same time, APRM officials conduct a background study of governance and development issues in the country.
This is followed by a visit of a panel of experts who undertake extensive discussions with government officials, civil society and citizens.
Incorporating the country’s own self-assessment a report is developed and submitted to the African Peer Review Mechanism Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participation Members States for further integration.
When South Africa first underwent the review, its Country Review Report highlighted significant strengths in each of the four thematic areas, namely democracy and political governance; economic governance and management; corporate governance and socio-economic development.
The report was complimentary about South Africa’s peaceful transition and its strong governance institutions.
However, it also highlighted challenges that the country needed to deal with from the legacy of apartheid.
The reports have however noted the entrenched challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that remain sources of potential social conflict. The latest report was presented by President Jacob Zuma at the Summit in January 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It showed that the country had made extensive progress on economic development, governance, social security, health and infrastructure development in the past decade.
In the area of democracy and political governance, South Africa achieved better scores in political stability, good citizenship and poverty alleviation over the period between 2009 and 2011.
Amongst the other positive developments it included the successful Local Government Elections in May 2012 and the National Elections in 2009 which were declared free and fair.
There were significant improvements in addressing the adverse effects HIV/AIDS with a total of 14 million people tested at the end of the financial year 2010/2011.
It highlighted the threefold increase in ARV sites from 490 in February 2010 to 3000 in April 2012. Since January 2013 more than 20 million South Africans now know their status and have undergone counselling.
Speaking at the 12th anniversary of the establishment of the APRM the late Minister of Public Service and Administration Collins Chabane said: “The APRM, by its nature, is an inclusive process that can assist the AU to solicit inputs from the grassroots, through national review processes involving citizens from diverse political, economic, social, religious and ethnic backgrounds, such as the public and private sectors, political parties and civil society organizations representing women, youth, farmers, professional groups, trade unions, etc.”
It would be a fitting tribute to this gallant freedom fighter to use the launch of the Second Generation Country Review as an opportunity to develop a National Plan of Action closely aligned with the programmes for the implementation of the National Development Plan in both the public, private and social sectors.
By promoting good governance and public accountability the APRM becomes a strategic instrument for building democracy, peace and development in the continent.
South Africans are encouraged to maintain the highest level of commitment to the success of the mechanism. The second Country Self-Assessment will be commencing shortly with a Country Review Mission by the “Panel of Eminent Persons” later in the year.
SOURCE: South African Official News