South Africa is fast regaining the respect it once had on the continent across both anglophone and francophone Africa. This week, African states were unanimous in their election of South Africa to chair the AU next year, as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
It was also agreed that the APRM would become an organ of the AU.
This has been hailed by Africa experts as an important milestone in reasserting South Africa’s image and leadership on the continent, which they say is largely thanks to the quiet but robust lobbying of Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu and her deputies.
“Despite the tensions that still exist between anglophone and francophone Africa which are often brought to the fore in the pan-African Parliament, Sisulu was able to forge bridges between leaders on the continent, which made her lobbying for South Africa to become chair of the AU that much easier,” Mphumzi Mdekazi in the Office of the Minister has said.
The return of South Africa to leadership positions within the AU will enable President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide renewed energy to themes South Africa championed at the AU in the past, providing continuity.
“As chair of the AU, South Africa will have the opportunity to refocus the attention of the continent on the importance of good governance,” executive director of the APRM Eddy Maloka has told Independent Media.
“Governance is used as an issue by Western powers to interfere on the continent, but South Africa can place governance at the core of the AU agenda,” Maloka said.
Maloka believes that during former president Thabo Mbeki’s tenure the continent was more focused on peace and security issues, but it is now ready to deal with improving governance.
Former presidents Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo, of Niegeria, were the founders of the APRM, meant to be a voluntary self-monitoring mechanism for African states to encourage conformity with political, economic and corporate governance values.
It is a way of ensuring African solutions to African problems, and to enable African governments to rate each other’s performance - 39 African states have acceded to the APRM.
“It is just a matter of time before the remaining nine countries agree to join. I have written to those governments and am confident they will accede,” Maloka said.
Botswana is the most recent country to have acceded to the APRM. Among those countries that are yet to sign up are Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, South Sudan, Seychelles, Comores, Guinea Bissau and Morocco.
The political will of African states to reverse poor governance scores will be a litmus for the relevance of the APRM and for the continent itself.