A study by Bernardo Venturi entitled “The African Union at a Glance: Is a Regional Game Changer Emerging?” concludes that there are numerous challenges for the AU to become a regional game changer. The study states: “These challenges include complex internal governance and procedures, lack of funds, political willingness to prevent and intervene in violent conflicts, and the inclusion of civil society at different levels.”
The African Union (AU) website also clearly states: “The African Union’s complicated structure and limited managerial capacity lead to inefficient working methods, poor decision-making and lack of accountability.”
The inefficiencies of the AU have been raised by numerous experts as well. Another study by Tom Kabau identifies consensual intervention and peaceful negotiations as the regional organization’s success while it regards decisive forceful intervention and constraints related with the traditional concepts of sovereignty as its failure.
The successes and failures of the continental body rest heavily on the performance of its employees, especially those at its headquarters in Addis Ababa. A master’s paper by Seid Shifa on “Assessment of Performance Appraisal practice in the African Union Commission” concludes:
I. The AU does not provide employees with a clear job description, making it hard for employees to understand their duties and responsibilities.
II. Employees do not receive orientation on the vision, mission and goals of the Union.
III. Supervisors evaluate their subordinates with bias as the regional body does not have any documents that help follows the activity of employees regularly.
IV. There are no records of good/bad behavior of the employees.
V. Employees have so many negative attitudes about the things that go on around them that they have become dissatisfied and demotivated. It further notes that such negative attitudes bear negative impacts on the effectiveness of employees.
In a move that aims to raise efficiency, the AU Commission is undertaking reform measures. These reform measures have already led to bold measures that saw the release of hundreds of employees. 167 employees who normally would have gone on to work for the Commission as advisors have been released on pension. Contract employees have also been let go as the reform puts an end to contracts that are regularly extended. Regular staff would also be required to pass an exam that evaluates their understanding of their current posts.
Although the end results of the ongoing reform will be seen in the future, overhauling the performance appraisal system seems to be an urgent need. For an organization that can do a lot in improving the lives of Africans, such changes are of paramount necessity.