Good governance essential for peace and prosperity


As South Africa’s two-year chairship of the African Peer Review Forum came to an end over the past weekend, South Africa has received favourable reviews for the rule of law, oversight bodies like Chapter 9 institutions, the advancement of women’s rights and strong refugee protection, among others.

The Forum is one of the structures of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which aims to promote and protect human rights, consolidate democracy and advance good governance and the rule of law among African countries.

Addressing the country in his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa was one of the first countries to join the APRM in 2003 and has undergone two assessments.

He said the most recent assessment was last year, where the country was assessed on democratic and political governance, economic management, corporate governance, socio-economic development and state resilience.

“South Africa was also cited for its strong corporate governance, open budget processes and for the proliferation of corporate social responsibility initiatives. We were also praised for the evolution of our electoral system through the introduction of independent candidature for last year’s local government elections,” President Ramaphosa said.

With regards to management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said South Africa was congratulated for demonstrating resilience and global leadership.

He said the APRM Review Mission further commended South Africa for publicising its detection of the Omicron variant late last year, “despite the risks to its economy”.

“But the assessment also found several areas of concern. These include rising inequality and unemployment, corruption, incidents of xenophobia and poor service delivery.

“It recommended that government develop a barometer to measure inequality and tools to measure the efficacy of transformative programmes such as broad-based black economic empowerment, employment equity and land reform,” the President said.

The President said the country is taking these recommendations on board and exploring areas of alignment between the APRM National Programme of Action and the work of its National Planning Commission.

“It is greatly encouraging that despite pockets of instability, we have come a long way in consolidating democracy and good governance on the continent,” he said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted that the Africa Governance Report 2021, which South Africa presented to the AU Assembly over the weekend, noted progress in consolidating democracy and moving towards economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

At the same time, he said it recommended that leaders take urgent steps to address drivers of instability, such as growing youth unemployment, extremism, mass migration and deepening inequality.

“Because participation is voluntary, the APRM seeks to encourage good governance through self-assessment and peer review. Member states are encouraged to work towards compliance by addressing deficiencies and implementing their national programmes of action.

“While the APRM is not punitive, the African Union has itself taken decisive positions on states whose actions undermine the principles of the AU Charter and the AU’s Agenda 2063,” he said.

For example, he said following coups last year, Mali, Guinea and Sudan’s membership of the AU were suspended and last week, the AU also suspended Burkina Faso’s membership following a coup in the West African nation.

“At the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor to the AU, in 1963, Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah issued a clear warning to Africa’s leaders: “Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past… if now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilised against us.”

The President said the APRM is one of the most important responses of Africa’s leaders to this danger.

“Just as South Africa’s fortunes are inextricably tied to those of the continent, we are also inevitably affected by political, economic and other forms of instability in Africa. This makes our participation in the African Peer Review Mechanism all the more critical,” the president said.

He emphasised that South Africa shares a responsibility, alongside its sister countries, to strengthen good governance in Africa.

“After all, good governance brings investment, development, peace, progress and, ultimately, shared prosperity,” he said.