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Governance and APRM Programme

Good governance assists countries to adhere to the rule of law, enhance economic performance and minimise conflict. This programme seeks to stimulate informed discussion and insightful research on governance in Africa, through the lens of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the continent’s innovative governance monitoring and promotion instrument. The GAP programme also works with civil society organisations to strengthen their interest and meaningful participation in the APRM and related processes in the emerging African Governance Architecture (AGA). We aim to improve the ability of the APRM to contribute to governance reforms, institutions and processes. As a result SAIIA is widely seen as the leading independent authority on the APRM.

The current programme is a collaboration between SAIIA and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). GAP also works with the APRM Secretariat on a project to enhance the interaction of the Pan-African Parliament with the APRM.

The African Peer Review Mechanism – the continent’s home-grown governance assessment and promotion tool – seems to be slowly turning its fortunes around. On 6-7 September, it will hold a workshop in Sandton discussing how to implement its first ever five year strategy for 2016-2020.
The slowdown of the African economy – due to declining Chinese demand for raw materials, unsustainable, uneven growth and the potential Brexit fallout – calls into question the hopeful ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. What is holding back Africa’s development, and what’s being done about it? To what extent is corruption to blame, and is the continent’s 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063, up to the task of tackling it? The latest ‘Panama Papers’ revelations, released late July 2016, have implicated more African countries – 44 out of 54 countries on the continent use offshore financial structures.
A telling feature of South African municipal elections is the near seamless manner in which they blend into the country’s national political narratives. Whether this involves appeals to socio-economic transformation, combatting corruption, redistributing land, party brand-loyalty or invoking the images of party leaders – whose names will not appear on ballots on 3 August – an important subtext is that these elections are speaking to something altogether ‘bigger’ than local governance and the management of service provision. Cynics might even consider these polls mere warm-ups as we approach the main tournament of national elections in 2019.
The drought that has hammered Southern Africa over the past years is a potent reminder (if ever it was needed) of the foundational importance of agriculture to the continent’s fortunes. Agriculture remains a mainstay of Africa’s economy, accounting for around a third of GDP and two thirds of employment.
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 232, May 2016
With eight countries already going to the polls and seven more planning to do so before December, 2016 has been a busy year for elections in Africa. At the halfway point of the year, what can be concluded about democratic processes across the continent? And what can be expected from the coming months?
African countries seem to be forever undergoing assessments and evaluations. Many stem from the governments of international development partners who have poured money into a plethora of projects, programmes and plans, and want to know what has worked and why. Others are commissioned by international organisations such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund that have likewise invested in development or infrastructure initiatives. Credit rating agencies also put African state’s political economies under their microscopes to pronounce on the investment climate.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Turkey is the state with the most refugees worldwide, hosting three million refugees from Syria alone. It was therefore apt that Istanbul hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) from 23 to 24 May 2016, building on Turkey’s humanitarian policy.
The ‘Land Question’. From legislation under consideration – such as the new Expropriation Bill – to a reopened land claims process, to violent evictions in Hammanskraal, to emotive rhetoric around current landholding patterns, the politics of land is shaking South Africa. In this, South Africa is not unique.
SAIIA, in partnership with the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation and the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to the launch of 'African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t’, edited by Steven Gruzd and Yarik Turianskyi.
Governance and accountability are vital elements in any society. Governance refers to the rules, procedures and institutions by which a state conducts its affairs. Accountability creates channels of communication and trust between a government and its citizens, as well as systems for holding officials responsible for their actions and policies.  In short, it is how a country is run and how the government and the governed interact with each other.
Nearly 26 years after he was forced out of power, former Chadian president Hissène Habré has been found guilty of crimes against humanity, torture (including sexual violence) and crimes of war committed under his rule from 1982 to 1990. He has been condemned to life imprisonment by the judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EACs), a court specially created by Senegal upon the request of the African Union (AU). This was the first trial of its kind on the continent and years of lobbying were necessary to convince the AU and Senegal to proceed with it. In pushing Africa to…
‘I dream of the realisation of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their effort to solve the problems of this continent.’ - Nelson Mandela
On 17-18 May, SAIIA and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) together held a regional civil society conference, ‘#ReviveAPRM: Where to Next for Civil Society?’ in Nairobi, Kenya.
Unless good governance is demanded by citizens, it will not be consistently supplied by authorities. For Africa, the nature of the relationship between governments and ordinary people, known as the social contract, has proven to be an enduring challenge in the post-independence period. Revolutionary technological advances over the past decade provide new opportunities for establishing deeper links between citizens and state institutions. Can they help Africans on their quest for better governance?
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 229, April 2016
Human Rights Day celebrates a precious proposition: each individual is a full member of society, with entitlements to opinion and behaviour that cannot be denied. It speaks directly to the ideal of human and civic freedom. For many people in South Africa and the continent at large, this is intimately linked to conceptions of democracy.
SAIIA cordially invites you to a SAIIA Roundtable on ‘The Habré Trial: African Justice in Action?’
SAIIA Research Report No 22, February 2016 Download - English Governance and APRM Programme Africa’s turn to electoral democracy over the past three decades has rightly been hailed as a significant achievement, but it has not rid the continent of restrictive and authoritarian governance impulses. This report attempts to interrogate the concept of ‘freedom’ and how it is faring in Africa. To do so, it conceptualises freedom in terms of ‘constitutional liberalism’, and discusses this conceptualisation in relation to two broad themes: constitutionalism and civil liberties.
On 9 March, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) turns 13. ‘APRM Day’ commemorates the formal launch of Africa’s innovative governance monitoring and assessment tool in Abuja, Nigeria in 2003.
Last week, as political turmoil in Burundi continued to escalate, the African Union (AU) sent a delegation to the troubled East African state. The delegation was headed by South African President Jacob Zuma, and included leaders from Ethiopia, Gabon, Mauritania and Senegal. Shortly prior to that, UN chief Ban Ki-moon was in Burundi as part of international efforts to bring peace and stability to the country.
Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni has extended his 30-year rule of Uganda by at least another five years as a result of his definitive first round electoral victory over his closest rival, Kizza Besigye, who once served as his medical doctor during the bush war against Idi Amin. Besigye has lost the last three elections to Museveni and in 2011 petitioned the Supreme Court, alleging that the results of the elections were rigged. Museveni’s victory was widely anticipated by most political observers inside and outside the country. These are the undisputed facts of the 2016 elections.
In Mozambique, interwovenness between political party, state and business has been a concern for a number of years. The crux of the issue lies with the overlapping of Mozambique’s ruling party, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO), and the state.
On 29 January 2016, a group of Africa’s Heads of State and Government met in Addis Ababa to determine the fate of one of the AU’s most daring initiatives. At stake was the future relevance of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
Events globally, across Africa, and in South Africa – urban riots in France in 2005 and Britain in 2011, the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings, student protests in South Africa last year – have thrust the youth into the centre of political attention. Nowhere is this more important than in Africa, where one in five of its people are between the ages of 15 and 24, and whose population is the youngest on earth.
SAIIA Policy Briefing 146, January 2016
A new book by SAIIA, African Accountability: What Works and What Doesn’t?, focuses on political and social developments to assess the current state of governance and accountability in Africa.