Friday, 11 July 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Political events in Zimbabwe have showed what is wrong with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) formed under the aegis of New Africa’s Partnership for Development (Nepad) whose major architect is South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Nepad was conceived about nine years ago when Mbeki came up with his African Renaissance ideals which were merged with Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade’s Omega Plan.

Nepad was to bring fresh impetus to the continent’s development and had a lot of support from the developed countries. It is not surprising that less than a decade later, Nepad, though existing at it’s South African base, is just another of the talking shops and it is doubtful if it still attracts the support of the developed nations as it did at its inception.

One of the primary objectives of Nepad is to halt the marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process and enhance its full and beneficial integration into the global economy while one of its principles is the promotion of good governance as a basic requirement for peace, security and sustainable political and socio-economic development.

The mandate of the APRM is to ensure that the policies and practices of participating states conform to the agreed political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards contained in the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance. The APRM is the mutually agreed instrument for self-monitoring by the participating member governments.

The primary purpose of the APRM is 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 through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practice, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the needs for capacity building.

Today, Nepad lies dead in the water. So is its offshoot, APRM. The sad fact is that the Nepad’s main architect himself, Mr Mbeki has failed the APRM concept by refusing to submit Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to a peer review that should have told him where to go after losing the elections.

But all is not lost if what went on in Egypt, at the just ended African Union summit when some African leaders broke ranks and tradition of not criticising a fellow leader is anything to go by.

The new generation of leaders such as Zambia’s president Levy Mwanawasa who, unfortunately, missed the summit due to a stroke that has left him hospitalised in Paris, Botswana’s Ian Khama, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who have spoken out on the political events in Zimbabwe.

Refreshing also is the fact that even old timers such as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and a few West African leaders are changing and are speaking for democracy instead of defending tyrannical rulers like Mugabe.

One can only hope that this is the beginning for African leaders openly criticising each other on the so-called internal matters of another country. This should have been the spirit of how the APRM should have been functioning right from the start.

At the same time, this should be the beginning of a self-cleansing exercise by most African nations themselves so that when they criticise a member country, their democratic credentials are impeccable.

The African countries who lack these credentials must remove the log in their eye before they point at the forest in someone else’s eye. This is the reason why Mugabe is able to dig in and, cheekily, tell them that they themselves are not as democratic as they want to show and that their own elections, when they are held, are as chaotic.

Sadly, however, it appears that President Mbeki has gone back on his words as Deputy President when he addressed the United Nations University in 1998 on the African Renaissance theme:

“The question must therefore arise: What is it which makes up that genuine liberation?

“The first of these (elements) is that we must bring to an end the practices as a result of which many throughout the world have the view that as Africans, we are incapable of establishing and maintaining systems of good governance. Our own practical experiences tell us that military governments do not represent the system of good governance which we seek.

“Accordingly, the continent has made the point clear that it is opposed to military coups and has taken practical steps, as exemplified by the restoration to power of the elected government of Sierra Leone, to demonstrate its intent to meet this challenge when it arises. Similarly, many governments throughout the continent, including our continental organisation, the OAU, have sought to encourage the Nigerian government and people to return as speedily as possible to a democratic system of government.”

One is compelled to ask President Mbeki about what makes Zimbabwe such a special case that he is able to swallow his own well-spoken word at that United Nations University ten years ago for what has happened there is not any different to the above.


This is not a blame game. Whether President Mwanawasa was taken ill or not I would have written about it any way.

Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande and his Information counterpart, Mike Mulongoti mishandled the “ping pong” with Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, and it lacked diplomatic etiquette.

Pande and Mulongoti’s response at an assembly of local journalists to parry Chinamasa’s accusations of President Mwanawasa’s firm handling of Zimbabwe’s shambolic elections gave an impression that diplomatic relations between the two countries had broken down. This is probably what stressed President Mwanawasa to an extent of suffering a stroke.

The two ministers should have advised Mwanawasa to directly speak to his Zimbabwean counterpart, the Zambian high commissioner in Zimbabwe could have made representations to that country’s Foreign Ministry or, indeed, Zambia could have sent a “diplomatic note” to that country, etc. That, clearly, is a text book case of how not to conduct diplomacy.

Mugabe had lost the first round of the elections, Chinamasa had lost his parliamentary seat, so what did one expect from “wounded” men? Vitriol in all directions!

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