By Elias Mhegera – The Tanzanian Government has been criticised over its monopoly, and a failure to launch the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Report even after it was published two years ago.
Deus Kibamba Executive Director Tanzania Citizens’ Information Bureau (TCIB) says the state monopoly of the report is deliberate but quite unacceptable and against the norms and traditions of good governance.
“This is our report, a nation as a whole and therefore it does not belong to the Government machinery per se, we are now obliged to ensure that the findings of this report reaches the people, two years after it has come out,” he commented.
He elaborated that the official launch could have stimulated wide discussions and involvement of other stakeholders, but all these efforts have remained elusive. Now the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have taken this task singlehandedly.
Kibamba who also dubs as chairman of the Constitutional Forum worries that probably the failure to launch the report is caused by its criticism of several parts which are sensitive and may be in away helping the incumbency to retain power.
For instance, in page 160 the report queried the management of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), currently board members are appointed by the supervising minister who also makes recommendation to the President on CEO and board chair appointments, and the report says this practice is a challenge to effective governance.
Further in page 173 of the same report, there is a critique that Tanzania is highly dependent on donor support for its development budget. “In group discussions in both Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, respondents expressed serious concern that a country that was richly endowed in resources like Tanzania was so heavily dependent on donors,” reads the report.
Mr Kibamba says that the APRM has faced a lot of challenges because of lack of knowledge on this matter, both in the Government and in the CSO and it could be either ignorance, lack interest in this area, or a combination of both.
He elaborated further that some CSOs cannot write proposals due to lack of this knowledge or because there is no enough money for such projects.
“It is due to lack of this knowledge some people thought that the first APRM Executive Secretary Prof. Daud Mkangara was rushing and therefore they will lose their jobs. People do not understand what the differences between the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and the APRM are,” commented Mr Kibamba.
Elaborating further on the differences, Mr. Kibamba said that The OGP is the UN initiative while the APRM is the African initiative. The OGP is hosted within the State House, while the APRM is at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.
He further elaborates that issues of democracy and political governance have many interpretations not necessarily sharing the common elements. He gave an example of some people in Zanzibar who interprets good governance in the autonomy of the Isles and if this is not the case then to them this is just a meaningless concept.
He counseled members of the CSOs to broaden their knowledge base in various issues like the war against corruption, money laundering, corporate governance, patronage, and management of natural resources.
“This country will remain meaninglessly entirely dependent on foreign aid while there are a lot of resources that are mismanaged, it is the duty of the CSOs to fill the gaps” he commented.
Ms. Rehema the APRM Executive Secretary admitted that the report has not yet been launched, but she ran short of admitting that there is lack of a political will from the Government.
“I have reminded several times, we have launched other programmes at the APRM, but unfortunately now we are heading towards the General Elections, this is no longer a priority, it will depend on who will become minister for foreign affairs after these elections,” she commented.
Ms Oliver Kinabo from Care International APRM expert says proper and right information to the people will help them to understand the duties that the government is supposed to do as per the APRM requirements.
“It is difficult for the CSOs to deal with the APRM report until when it has been officially launched by the Government otherwise some Government officials will not take it as authentic information which can be quoted anywhere, the APRM is an organizing tool, we must promote it,” she said.
Susan Mwape from Zambia counseled for the formation of the CSOs in monitoring implementation of the APRM National Plan of Action (NPoA). She gave an example of such an alliance in her country although she admitted that even in there sometimes the CSOs are sidelined.
She suggested that the coalition will have to discuss pertinent matters chapter by chapter. For instance land grabbing and land related conflicts, public accounts review, but this needs a mutual consensus and building a negotiating strategy.
Yarick Turiansky Programme Manager, Governance and APRM Programme says this programme needs a balance in how the laws of the land are favourable to both sides, management of diversity, and natural resources dependency.
Steven Gruzd Programme Head, Governance and APRM, South African Institute of International Affairs said that the CSOs have to coordinate their activities in collaboration with the media and promote all research findings like those of the Legal and Human Rights Centre.
APRM was born out of the OAU Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic & Corporate Governance (July 2002 in Durban), part of African reform drive. The working mechanism is through peer learning, dialogue, peer pressure, diplomacy and civil society involvement to catalyse reform.
It demands measures and adherence to African and global standards in four thematic areas: self-assessment which needs varied research and consultation methods, through civil society participation. Both internal and external review, are to be made public, while the NPoA has to address shortcomings.
The programme encompasses 35 members throughout the African continent while all member countries of the EAC have ratified the mechanism with an exception of Burundi.
Some pertinent issues that were subject for review in the recent past are the Kenyan 2007 post-election violence, and the most recent case of xenophobia in South Africa.
The initiative has to monitor if African Governance Architecture fits with other processes including those propagated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
There are great initial donor interest, but the concern is slow pace, magnitude and nature of NPoA requests, lack of results, own assessments, and probably others do not see this process translating to greater development support.