APRM external review: So far so good in Tanzania

Tanzania joined the list of  countries to allow external oversight of its performance under the continental peer review 3 years ago. This piece will look how the APRM team questioned how the three organs manage the Principle of Separation of powers without interference from the other. Over the last weekend, Saturday to be exact, the APRM external team met with judges, then the Speaker and representatives of political parties.

During the meeting with the judges, Chief Justice Mohamed Othman Chande said a new law is in the offing to separate regional and district magistrates’ ethics committee from the Executive. As the team met Speaker Ana Makinda and some legislators in the afternoon, she said that at the end of the discussion that all matters raised in discussions and recommendations made by the continental team would be considered for implementation and the feedback provided.

“This is a positive discussion,” she said But during a meeting with various political parties, there were concerns over how the political field plays out in the current system of  pluralism. Led by Cameroonian Barrister Akere Muna, the delegation held discussions with representatives of the private sector, trade unions, civil societies, political parties and religious leaders. The panel is made up of professionals from various fields in Africa.

It is reviewing Tanzania’s assessment report compiled by the locals by meeting  various stakeholders to verify issues in the report. Barrister Muna said the panel is focusing on four major areas namely political and democracy governance, economic and
management governance as well as corporate governance and social and economic development. Under the scheme, Tanzania now joins other 28 member African states which accepted to voluntarily assess each other’s political and economic management.

According to the National Governing Council (NGC) of APRM Chairman, Prof Hasa Mlawa, Tanzania completed the process of governance assessment and submitted the Country Self Assessment Report (CSAR) to the APRM Continental Secretariat for their action. Tanzania’s assessment began early  in 2010 under the APRM, an instrument that seeks to promote democracy and accountability on the continent and the President, in January 2010, at a summit of the African Union, presented his country’s first assessment report.

Then a team of independent African peer reviewers came early this month to verify the findings. President Jakaya Kikwete said while launching the National Governing Council in 2009 that the government had allowed for internal and external assessment to confront where there are insufficient or ineffective structures.But he said it was a courageous move which signals the confidence a government has to have external ‘audits.’ Under the review arrangement, an APRM team visits the country and consults government officials, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, the media, trade unions and others.

Then a country report is prepared by the APRM team and discussed with the government before submitting it to a committee of participating heads of state for consideration and recommendations. The country is then obliged to implement the programme of action. And if a country is willing to correct its shortcomings, other African countries and donor nations are encouraged to assist. However, if the political will is lacking, other states try and persuade it to comply through dialogue.

However, if that fails, collective action will be taken and participating heads of state will alert the particular government on the measures they intend to take. The APRM 20 member team drawn from different institutions, is charged to ascertain whether Tanzania conforms to the agreed political, economic and governance values as part of a self-monitoring mechanism for good governance under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

The APRM “aims to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub regional and continental economic integration which could also be used as a yardstick to attract foreign investment,” says President Kikwete All the three arms of government - the executive, legislature and judiciary – are reviewed, as well as independent institutions such as the Electoral Commission and the Commission on Human Rights, civil society organizations and the private sector.

“The review process is thus national in character, and as such, a country assessment of the state of governance in its entirety,” says Prof Hasa Mlawa, the APRM chair. Prof Mlawa said that the council had started work immediately it was formed, effectively having already carried out 153 seminars countrywide. The country assessment report and national programme of action aimed at working on government deficits, was also complete, he said.

The national programme, he pointed out, had been approved by all stakeholders through seminars carried out in June this year. Mr Kikwete said Tanzania had accepted to be  assessed because of its confidence but added that it also stood to benefit from the process. He noted that Africa’s leaders had come up with the programme from the fact that many countries had economic, social and political problems whose solution hinged on good governance.

He urged for sincerity in the APRM council‘s assessment to enable the government to find out in which areas it was performing well and those with dismal performance. He said APRM’s assessment would give challenges to the local institutions and policy implementers. He cited his expectation that the assessment would enable the government see which areas needed more attention. An official document released by NGC under Prof Mlawa notes that countries that agree to go under APRM review must conform to agreed values in four areas:

These, according to the document, include democracy and political  governance, economic governance, corporate governance and socioeconomic development. African heads of state and government endorsed the APRM in 2003 and so far, 29 countries
have joined the programme. Process A team from the APRM secretariat carries out each review with the participation of the host country. The APRM team consults government officials, members of opposition political parties, civil society groups, the corporate sector and the media.

It gathers relevant documents to prepare its final report and recommendations. One major constraint is that it is a time-consuming exercise, requiring anything from six to nine months of consultations. It also is “expensive in terms of logistics required, preparation of workshops, conferences and meetings all over the country.”NGS chairman Prof Hasa Mlawa says that they have already carried out 153 seminars throughout the country.

There are also programmes that require public participation, such as donor funded poverty reduction programmes, government- and other donor-led development projects and efforts to halt the spread of AIDS and corruption. Although there are no exact figures on the costs of running a review, at the launch of the peer review process, member countries recommended that each participating state pledge a minimum of $100,000(120m/-) to finance the programme while a long-term funding formula is worked out.


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