SPEECHES: Remarks by LN Sisulu, Minister for Public Service and Admnistration at the United Arab Emirates Government Summit Roundtable discussion on innovations in public governance, Dubai United Arab Emirates, February 12, 2013

Date: 27 Feb 2013

Thank you for inviting me to share our experiences on innovation in Public Governance. Governance is about accountability and public participation. It was an honour to observe the interaction that the Prime Minister had with members of the public yesterday through direct questions from delegates and social media inputs. Technology has provided more platforms for citizens to interact with their leaders and Government. I will focus my input on a very special innovation on governance and accountability we as Africans are very proud of, called the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, better known as the APRM. This is an instrument adopted by the African Union member states in 2003 as a voluntary tool for peer review of governance and human development on our continent.

Through the APRM a panel of experts is sent to each country by the African Union to examine governance institutions and human development progress.

In preparations for the country report, citizens participate in feedback and review platforms to make inputs on how their countries are performing in terms of their own expectations. Through these consultative platforms citizens are able to contribute to the evaluation of the performance of their government on a regular basis. The APRM also provides platforms to share best practices and solutions to common problems among member states. This is a critical tool for governments to learn from each other and support each other's programmes.

The country reports are then presented and discussed among peers and made public to all stakeholders. Each country is periodically required to present a progress report to the African Union to be debated and reviewed by heads of states and other structures.

The APRM, in its unique African progress review mechanism, is designed to allow member states to critically look at each other's governance structures and human development programmes, adopt best practices and share solutions to common problems. We are very proud that most of the countries on the African continent have embraced the APRM and are beginning to change the way Governments receive feedback from communities and also prioritise developmental resource. Through the APRM, communities are able to hold their leaders to account, but most importantly also use the platform to indicate their developmental priorities.

Many countries including South Africa have institutionalised this innovation by using the APRM to support their deepening of democracy by creating permanent National General Councils that bring together Government, NGOs, industry, business, civil societies and many other stakeholders on a quarterly basis to discuss the progress the country is making against declared key developmental indicators. Provincial Governments have also developed their own Provincial General Councils, bringing together different stakeholders to engage regularly.

I must stress that this is not easy; the continent is faced with a number of teething challenges in implementing this, from inequalities, illiteracy and limited resources to allow for total participation of all citizens in the review of their country.

But we are beginning to see the impact of this approach to governance. More countries are taking governance issues seriously and citizens priorities are known, documented and reviewed.


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