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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.

As published in Kenya recently completed a controversial census that enquired into, among other things, the ethnicity of its citizens. For Kenya's Human Rights Commission and other organisations, probing ethnic origins poured salt on fresh wounds, even though for minority groups such as the Ogiek people, reliable statistics on their numbers would help policymakers develop relevant solutions to the Ogiek's often obscure needs as a hunter-gatherer community. However, the furore over this one part of the census questionnaire obscures a more important subject – Kenya's persistent inequality.
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 39, August 2009 (English)
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 39, August 2009 (French)
As published in Gabon goes to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday, nearly three months after the death of President Omar Bongo Ondimba at the age of 73. Bongo was Africa's longest-ruling president, having come to power in 1967. He had won his latest presidential term of seven years in 2005 with almost 80 percent of the vote, against a weak opposition. The current poll pits Bongo's son, Ali-Ben, against no fewer than 20 rivals. Given the history of his father's dominance and the fractious nature of opposition politics in the oil-rich country, Ali Bongo is…
From 1 July 2009 cellphone service providers in South Africa cannot activate a new SIM card without the full name, address and identity number of the customer. Existing SIM cards must be registered within 18 months. The new registration law is aimed at assisting law enforcement agencies to investigate and combat serious crime by ensuring that the identity and whereabouts of every SIM card owner is known to foil and investigate criminal activity. Customer information must be kept in a secure database for a minimum of three years, accessible only to selected personnel. But does monitoring criminal activity threaten our…
Malawi has been in the headlines, following pop-star Madonna's battles to adopt a second child from this tiny, landlocked southern African state. But as Malawi gears up to celebrate its 45th independence day on 6 July, it's a good time to reflect on the lessons of its recent political trajectory. There were very high hopes for Malawi following its democratisation in 1994, after decades as a one-party state. But where does the country stand now?
When Twitter – the world’s latest social networking phenomenon – made the cover of Time Magazine’s 15 June edition, journalist Steve Johnson mused ‘Just 140 characters? I wonder if I could use that to start a political uprising.’ On that Monday morning, news of unrest in Iran amidst allegations of a rigged election began to spread, especially on the web. Freedom of information has become one of the biggest casualties in the aftermath of the Iranian election, with journalists being harassed, bullied and expelled. Yet citizen journalism – through the internet – has succeeded against repression and let people air…
A day ahead of this year’s African Union summit in Libya, the 11th meeting of the forum of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) took place in the sweltering seaside town of Sirte. Reports emerging from those who attended threw up few surprises and some lingering concerns.
As Rwanda celebrates its independence on Wednesday, it stands as one of those African countries which appears on the face of it to be working well, despite pursuing a homegrown style of democracy which has attracted international criticism for being authoritarian.
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 37, June 2009
On 30 June 2009, as African leaders gather on the sweltering, dusty shores of the Mediterranean in Sirte, the hometown of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi, for the 13th Summit of the African Union, some early birds will attend another vital meeting on the fringes. Participating heads of states will attend the 11th Forum of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Africa’s voluntary home-grown governance monitoring endeavour. What’s on the agenda? And where is the mechanism heading?
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 36, July 2009 (English)
South African Institute of International Affairs invites you to a workshop on ‘Is effective political opposition emerging in Africa?’ Encouraging signs of democratic consolidation can be seen across the African continent. This is particularly evident in the raft of peaceful, free, fair and legitimate elections that are increasingly the norm. Moreover, a key test of democratic consolidation has been passed in that a number of African governments have been peacefully and legitimately elected out of power, or have been forced to share power via the ballot box.Venue: Jan Smuts House
SAIIA Research Report, No 3, June 2009 Download - English [.pdf] (396.24 kB) This study is based on a research project carried out as part of the Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Programme of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). This study attempts to distil lessons learned by a handful of African civil society coalitions on the dynamics of demanding improved governance of governments that are often averse to governance reform. 
Recent events in South Africa and Britain show that despite the fact they are regarded by many as examples of good governance, political leaders in both countries are struggling to get a handle on how both to be clean and to be seen to be clean, writes Tšoeu Petlane of the SA Institute of International Affairs.
Over the past few days, elections were held to the European Union's (EU) transnational European Parliament (EP) - an institution largely unknown in Africa. Does it have anything to teach Africa about its own continental parliamentary project - the Pan-African Parliament (PAP)?  
On 20-21 May 2009, SAIIA's Governance and APRM Programme hosted a workshop in Johannesburg entitled 'Integrating Governance into University Education: Workshop for African Academics'. Lecturers and professors from eight African countries attended, to explore how teaching, learning, research and publishing on governance issues can be strengthened on the continent. Click here for the workshop report, and continue reading for the Executive Summary. 
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 34, June 2009 (English)
Recent history shows that proactive diplomacy can save lives, economies and continental reputation. Long-serving rulers bottle up political tensions and resist predictable power transfers, which means the death of aging autocrats ought to bring active African diplomacy to ensure stable elections and transfers of power.
As published in the Daily News and Cape Argus Africa Day: a moment for the continent to reflect on its past, and to dream of its future. But Africa Day is also a commemoration of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. At its establishment, the OAU was also the stuff of big dreams, but its legacy was a mixed one, which had made many painful mistakes. When it was replaced by the African Union (AU), many were hopeful that a new day had dawned. The OAU was part of the "old" Africa, the AU the…
Perhaps nothing better captures the legacy of Jan Christiaan Smuts than the bronze bust that greets visitors in the entrance hall of the building that bears his name – Jan Smuts House – housing the South African Institute of International Affairs. Sculpted by Rhona Stern, it has been executed with a rough, almost unfinished surface. An unbuttoned shirt with a wide, peeled-back collar suggests the sort of exertion (of a soldier? a farmer?) that would have discounted the ubiquitous neckpieces of the day – an incomplete task, perhaps. Smuts’ face seems reflective, his eyes almost dreamily set on the distance,…
The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) aims to promote 'good governance' in Africa, through systematic reviews of a state's governance practices and subsequent recommendations, made by the APRM's Panel of Eminent Persons in each report, on how to improve them. Deliberately styled as a 'peer review', it encourages representatives from different African countries (and ultimately an assembly of the participating Heads of State - the APR Forum), to interrogate each country's problems and to propose solutions.
Wednesday 22 April 2009 will be remembered by many in Africa an historic day. Almost 80% of eligible voters in South Africa went to the polls peacefully in a national election to choose their fourth government since the watershed elections in 1994 that established a non-racial democracy in the country. This marked another triumph of the ballot over other forms of changing leaders in a continent that has suffered coups and assassinations over the past half-century. South Africans should be congratulated for this achievement, and Africans should learn valuable lessons from them in this regard.
It has been over a month now since the unity government in Zimbabwe published proposals to dig the country out of the economic hole it has been languishing in over the best part of the past decade. The plan, named STERP (Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan) has been discussed and endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the fourteen-member organization of countries in the region that was instrumental in facilitating the Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the unity government in Zimbabwe.
In a little over two weeks, Jacob Zuma will be sworn in as fourth president of South Africa since the advent of democracy in 1994. At home, his presidency is viewed ambivalently - either as a breath of fresh air or as a worrying development for constitutionalism in South Africa. His supporters are quick to magnify former president Mbeki's aloofness and policy failures on crime, employment creation and HIV/AIDS as compelling evidence that a more affable and down-to-earth Jacob Zuma is indeed just what South Africa needs. His detractors associate the former deputy president with personal moral failure, corruption and…
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 29, April 2009 (English)