The leadership we require must be of a certain caliber, ready to act to transform the socio-economic landscape of our continent. Its effectiveness must be measured by the transformative impact of its interventions in society, writes Eddy Maloka.
A new Commission of the African Union has just assumed office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From day one, it will have on its table for urgent attention, Africa’s pressing challenges. The conflict in Somalia and other parts of our continent will top the list of priorities calling for African solutions to African problems.
Their next four years in office will undoubtedly build on what we have achieved since 2002 when the African Union was born out of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). One thing is clear though – the Africa of today is markedly and fundamentally different from that of the 1980s.
It used to be difficult in Africa to discuss governance, but today it’s no longer the case. We no longer view governance as an externally imposed agenda, but rather as an essential ingredient to claiming the African century.
Even though it’s no longer in dispute that peace and security, development and good governance are interlinked in a dialectical way, we also admit that governance is at the center of our security and developmental challenges. Its absence is a root cause to almost all the conflicts on the continent. It accounts for factors inhibiting our development in many areas. In summary – it has a triple significance to the African predicament: as a root cause to our problems, a bottleneck to unleashing the continent’s potential and as a precondition that is necessary to Silencing the Guns by 2020, among others.
It is for this reason that at its January 2017 Summit of its Heads of State and Government, the AU expanded the mandate of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), giving this body the task of monitoring the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, this Summit resolved to strengthen the APRM to enable it to track governance issues on our continent.
The strength of the APRM as the continent’s regional governance agency is in its methodology whereby countries, through the APRM National Structures, assess themselves in the broad thematic areas of political, economic, social and corporate governance. APRM country reports are produced by the countries themselves through a country-owned, self-assessment exercise.
The APRM will have to carry out its new mandate by focusing on the notion of transformative leadership which is at the center of both Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. No matter how noble are these two plans for Africa’s future, their targets and goals will remain a pipe dream if we do not have a leadership in place that is prepared, with strong political will, to implement them, working together with their people. It is known that Africa’s challenges are not due to a lack of good ideas, resolutions or policies – but rather in the implementation of what we know to be good for our continent.
Therefore, leadership is at the center. But the leadership we require must be of a certain caliber, ready to act to transform the socio-economic landscape of our continent. Its effectiveness must be measured by the transformative impact of its interventions in society. Our states must be developmental in their orientation, anchored on strong and capable institutions at country level.
However, good governance is not an end in itself – the people are the reason why we have governments in the first place. A transformative leadership has to have this thinking as its point of departure – delivering services, promoting an open society and accountability, and involving the people in state matters in a transparent way.
The good news is that we are almost there, thanks to the Pan-African foundation of the African post-colonial state which was conceived, from the beginning, as interventionist, developmental, and people-oriented. We all remember Kwame Nkrumah’s famous saying that “seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you” – which saw political freedom as a stepping stone towards the transformation of our continent.
Nkrumah’s vision could not materialize because not long after being in power in his country, Ghana, he was toppled through a coup d’etat – a phenomenon that would dominate Africa’s politics in the 1970s and 1980s. The post-colonial state which was supposed to be an instrument of liberation, development and African unity, became predatory, repressive, self-serving, and anti-people.
It’s our leaders themselves who put an end this in the 1990s when they adopted a strong stance that rejected any leader who came to power through unconstitutional means. These early steps would culminate into a package of AU policy measures, the “shared values” doctrine, which brought into being the African Governance Architecture whose components include the APRM. The promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance is now taken for granted as our “shared values”
The new Commission of the AU will build on this “shared values” foundation to bring into being a transformative leadership that is envisaged in Agenda 2063. The APRM, with its newly acquired mandate, will have to develop a toolkit for AU member states that can be used to track progress, and identify gaps and what needs to be done at country level.
The first ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063 has identified a set of transformational outcomes under its governance leg which include the following, that:
· Democratic values and culture as enshrined in the African Governance Architecture would have been entrenched by 2023.
· At least seven out of ten persons in every member state of the Union will perceive elections to be free, fair and credible; democratic institutions, processes and leaders accountable; the judiciary impartial and independent; and the legislature independent and key component of the national governance process.
· The African Peer Review Mechanism will have been ascribed to by all Member States and its positive impact on governance metrics felt.
This is doable and undoubtedly achievable!
Ed.’s Note: Eddy Maloka is the CEO of the African Peer Review Mechanism. The article was provided to The Reporter by the Communications Department of the APRM. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.