THE APRM PANEL OF EMINENT PERSONS
Prof Hangs up his Boots
In an emotional, off-the-cuff speech lasting about 20 minutes, in which he recalled how he has served Africa in his public life since the 1950s, Professor Adedeji announced that the APRM meetings in Kampala would be the last sessions he would preside over, as he wanted to retire from the Panel before turning 80 in December 2010. He recalled that Zambia had prevented him from retiring in 2008, by threatening to withdraw from the mechanism.
The move appeared to take many by surprise, and some uncertainty lingered. According to an observer, “It’s not clear whether the Prof’s resignation has been tendered, accepted and if it’s immediate.” However, a 26 July press release confirmed that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Chairperson of the Forum had “appointed Professor Mohamed-Séghir Babès as the new Chairperson of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons with immediate effect,” after the Panel had selected him unanimously, with Domitilla Mukantaganzwa as his deputy. It confirmed that Adedeji’s resignation was effective immediately.
During the meeting, when Meles reminded Adedeji that he had not given the chairperson’s official report, Adedeji quickly recapped the number of reports completed to date, and said that the Ethiopian Country Review Report would “maybe” be presented in January 2011.
Adedeji stated that a “closer relationship with the AU Commission (AUC) is being sought” and that the APRM should be a structure within the AUC, with its staff accorded the same privileges, but then, contradicting himself, he asserted that the APRM would be a “stand alone structure.” The Draft Operating Rules of Procedure of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons – which was heavily criticised the day before by some APRM Focal Points (senior country officials) – would be discussed at the next Forum after wider consultations.
Mauritius Finally Makes It
After a seven-year gestation that would have cow elephants begging for a Caesarean section, Mauritius finally discussed its APRM Country Review Report. But the peers still had a bit longer to wait. Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam had signalled that would not be able to make the scheduled 2PM start due to an urgent meeting. Unlike some of his peers who have their own presidential jets (or use those provided by Libya), Ramgoolam travelled from Mauritius to Entebbe on commercial flights. He freshened up for 15 minutes before entering the meeting room, which cut short an extended presentation by Professor Babès, the Panel member responsible for the Mauritian review.
According to observers who attended this closed session, the Prime Minister fielded comments and questions about governance and development in Mauritius in good spirit, from President Jacob Zuma (South Africa), President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria) and Prime Minister Meles. Continuing the trend of poor attendance by the peers, the only other heads of state and government there were the Presidents of Nigeria and Zambia, and the Prime Ministers of Lesotho and Rwanda, while all other countries were represented by foreign ministers or senior officials, including hosts Uganda (due to the meeting time being shifted) and current AU chair Malawi. Does this signal waning commitment to the APRM?
The report lauded Mauritius for achievements including its stable institutionalised democracy, economic resilience, entrepreneurial drive, public service excellence and treatment of the elderly. It also highlighted key challenges: the apparent marginalisation of Rodrigues Island (some 550 km from Mauritius with a population overwhelmingly descended from African slaves); fighting high-level corruption; managing diversity and building a common feeling of nationhood across racial, ethnic and religious lines; and tackling “pockets of poverty”. The full report is due for release in six months.
CURRENT APRM MEMBER STATES
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania,* Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tome and Principé, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
* Although Mauritania’s suspension from the AU was lifted in 2009, it has never been formally readmitted to the APRM.
STATES PEER REVIEWED
Countries are meant to report annually on progress in implementing the NPOA.
Progress Reports Missing Deadlines
Countries were originally meant to report on NPOA implementation in six-month intervals, but this proved burdensome. Adedeji had earlier told the meeting that South Africa’s second progress report on the implementation of its NPOA – originally due in January 2010 – would now only be tabled in January 2011 and that Benin “was not in a position to table their report” in Kampala. Uganda had requested a deferral to align reporting more closely with its financial year. A year after their peer review, the official Country Review Reports of Mozambique and Lesotho have not yet been published, delaying implementation.
While there is slippage evident from the countries, the Forum is also falling behind in having countries present their annual implementation reports, as other business intervenes. An observer close to the APRM process said, “To make state actors accountable, the APRM needs a better monitoring framework. This has proved a missing link so far. Until we have regular results and feedback, to shape subsequent reviews, it will be like starting from scratch each time.” The current process to streamline and fast-track the APRM, including overhauling monitoring and reporting, will hopefully address this.
Until that happens, African civil society should hold their governments accountable for APRM NPOA commitments and reporting deadlines. They can learn from how Ugandan NGOs have tracked progress on implementing the NPOA. For unless good governance is demanded, it is unlikely to be supplied.
Steven Gruzd is the head of the Governance and APRM Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in Johannesburg. He was in Kampala at the time of the APRM meetings.