|AfriMAP Newsletter # 15
Electoral Governance and Election Management Bodies
DRC: Democracy and Political Participation
AfriMAP and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) held a launch event on 30 November for a 264-page report entitled: DRC: Democracy and political participation- an assessment of the first steps into the 3rd republic. The event was held in the country's capital, Kinshasa and presided over by Professor Ngonda Nkoy chief of staff of the President of the Senate Leon Kengo wa Dondo. In his speech, Dr Nkoy spoke encouragingly for the need to ensure that civil society is always given opportunity to have a say in public affairs. DRC goes to the polls in 2011, and the report made strong recommendations for political neutrality of the country's elections management body the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), if the process is to be seen as free and fair. The report also focused on legal reforms, and the executive's sponsorship of constitutional amendments that have consolidated its power at the detriment of other governance institutions. Political party representatives, senators, parliamentarians, international donor organizations and civil society as well as the media attended the event. Radio Okapi, the UN radio in DRC, focused on the report's findings in a phone in programme. The report was written by Leslie Moswa and professors Ngoma-Binda and Yahisule.
Challenges to election management in Uganda
Uganda's level of preparedness for elections in February 2011 was also scrutinized in a new report entitled: Elections Management in Uganda by former chair of the national human rights commission and member of the electoral commission and current UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Skekaggya. The report was launched on 5 October at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala. The keynote address was given by Hon. JusticeKanyeihamba formerly of the Uganda Supreme Court. In his keynote address, the Hon. Justice stated that it was too late for any meaningful and long term reforms around electoral laws in Uganda for the 2011 elections. He stated that this was due to fact that the political will of the incumbency was lacking, and that pressure should have been placed on President Museveni years ago to push parliament to reform the laws instead of waiting at the last hour to do so. Justice Kanyeihamba further stated that the playing field is far from being level. However, there were fundamental issues that can be addressed that can at least help promote good practice and place a check on mischief in 2011. A system needed to be in place whereby all voters are searched before going into the polling booth- this prevents the scenario where vote buyers can actually vote for themselves, as well as others who sold their franchise to party activists. The need to ensure that candidates and their parties abide by the law is crucial. According to the report, the Electoral Commission should live up to its mandate and take full charge of the process, and if need be name and shame candidates/parties that violate the law. This will help establish its credibility and reverse the perception that they are bias, and unfit for purpose. The report recommends that the codes of conduct for political parties and the media should be urgently implemented, and that Electoral Commission should be empowered to deal with electoral violence by suspending candidates who violate the electoral code, while the security forces responsible for keeping the peace should be subject to independent monitoring.
Research and Advocacy on Public Service Delivery in the Education Sector in Africa
On 7 October 2010, AfriMAP launched a report entitled: Benin: Effective Delivery of Education Servicesin the nation's capital Cotonou. The event was chaired by Professor Paulin Hountondji, a former Minister and President of the national Education Council. Discussions focused on Benin's challenges in attaining sustainable service delivery system within the education sector, one of which was the lack of coordination and collaboration between government and other stakeholders operating within the sector. The importance of human resource and training, data management, were highlighted as crucial issues that needed to be addressed.
The AfriMAP report, written by Marie Odile Attanasso a lecturer and researcher at the University of Abomey Calavi in Benin, offers a comprehensive analysis of the Beninois education system and a critical assessment of successive reforms in the sector since the national round table on education (Etats Généraux de l'Education) in October 1990 which followed the historical National Conference of February 1990.
Present at the ceremony were Mr. Cosme Vodounon, Director of the National Statistic Institute; representatives of the Ministry for the Prospective, Development, Assessment of Public Policy and Coordinator of the Government Action (MPDEPP-CAG); civil society organizations; union representatives; journalists; Senegalese education experts and international donors.
Ghana: Effective delivery of public services in the education sectorwas published in early December 2010. The research was conducted over several years by teams of researchers, teachers, members of teachers' unions and experts on education in Ghana. Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, President of Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), was responsible for the general leadership of the process assisted by Mme Hannah Araba Opoku Gyamfi, the Program administrative officer, and Theresa Tabi, the Program assistant, who were in charge of the coordination and the Research Secretariat. The report places focus on the fact that Ghana's education system was regarded as “a leader in African educational development”. However from the mid 1970s, the entire system went into a decline. Several education reform programmes have since then been introduced with the hope of restoring the high standards of service delivery characteristic of the early years of independence. The report states that although Ghana has both ratified the most important international treaties that include the right to education, it has not lived up to its reporting obligations under the international treaties, thus avoiding the opportunity to examine its own performance against these standards. The report assesses processes of data gathering and utilisation, strategic planning and implementation, financial and human resources management as well as development of Ghana's education sector. The report provides evidence of the two primary reasons for Ghana's failure to register strong and sustainable results in the education sector: lack of consistent policy implementation and funding.
A report on delivery of public services in Mozambique was discussed in a validation workshop held in Maputo on 8 July 2010. Forty people, from representatives of national and international civil society organizations and donor partners to government representatives (mostly from the Ministry of Education) and university attended. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Fátima Zacarias, did the welcome remarks followed by a statement by the Deputy-Director of the National Institute for the Development of Education (INDE), Mr. Nahara Trindade.
Participants debated the report and placed emphasis on the timeliness of the report since the Ministry of Education and its international partners were currently discussing the new strategic plan for the sector (2011-2015).Many were of the view that the new assessment system that is being implemented in the country, through which children are assessed by learning cycles, not by year (the so-called "semi-automatic promotion") was not properly explained to teachers, and that, in practice, it implies that children go through classes without proper assessment of their learning abilities. Adult education was also discussed as an important area, as well as professional education. These broad arguments will feature in the final report to be launched in the first quarter of 2011.
Public Broadcast Media Project:
The survey on public broadcasting in Africa starts with the premise that development and democracy cannot thrive without open and free public space where all issues concerning people's lives can be aired and debated; and which gives room and opportunity for participation in decision-making. The key objective of the survey is to assess whether and to what extent the various forms of broadcasting on the African continent can and do create such a free public space, with special attention given to those services which call themselves ‘public'. A total of 11 country reports look closely at the current status of broadcasting in Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Reform efforts are under way in a number of countries. And at least on paper, there is already broad consensus on the need to open up the airwaves to commercial and community broadcasters and for state broadcasters to be transformed into truly public broadcasting services.
On 16 November 2010, AfriMAP and OSISA launched a report on the public broadcasting in Zambia. The event was attended by over sixty participants, mostly from the media profession. Hon. Mr. Anderson R. Zikonda Rtd. High Court Judge gave the keynote speech afterwelcome remarks by Fanwell Chembo, MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) Interim Chairperson. The report, The Public Broadcast Media in Africa Series: Zambia, highlights legal restrictionsto media freedom, including in the Penal Code, which amongst other things, criminalises defamation, empowers the President to ban publications, and defines “seditious intentions” and criminalizes “seditious publications” in such broad and vague terms that virtually any honest criticism of government could pass as sedition. Other pieces of legislation which restrict freedom of expression are the Anti-Terrorism Act, which could be abused by authorities in power. The report also states that there is still opportunity for the government of Zambia to follow through on its earlier commitments to reform the media as part of its democracy building efforts. The report also made strong recommendations for the immediate establishment of a self-regulatory Zambia Media Council that would increase public confidence in the media's objectivity and impartiality. Written by Mr. Chris Chirwa, a Zambian media and management consultant, the Zambia report is part of an eleven-country survey of African broadcast media jointly launched by AfriMAP, African foundations of the OSF, and the Open Society Media Program. The research seeks to collect information on and conduct advocacy for reform in regulation, ownership, access, and performance of public broadcast in Africa.
AfriMAP and OSISA held a validation workshop on 10th November in Windhoek to discuss and critique the findings of the study on the broadcast media in Namibia and identify areas for reform of the public broadcasting in the country. There were about 25 participants, representing media, civil society, government and inter-governmental organizations with technical know-how and good institutional memory. This representation will impact positively into the final draft of the report, being written by Sarah Taylor, media expert and consultant based in South Africa. The workshop generated vibrant debate on the need to appoint a new board for the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and to lift the ‘freeze' on operating media new licenses in Namibia. According to participants, the freeze has hampered diversity and progress in media in the country, which has restricted any new players operating in the sector. The report is scheduled for launch in early February.
Mozambique's report on public broadcast media in Africa series was written by Tomas Vieira Mario, member of MISA, media consultant and activist from Mozambique, who showed that issues of secrecy by the state in matters of public interest threatened media progress in the country. The 145-page report also urged parliament to revise the law on state secrets in order to limit it to strictly necessary measures indispensible to ensure public safety in a democratic society. It went further to state that the Government Information Bureau (GABINFO) be stripped of its role of exercising state sovereignty over public media. The October 1rst launch was attended by civil society groups, media, international organizations and several government representatives, including of GABINFO, who congratulated the author and AfriMAP for the study.
A draft report on the public broadcast media in Nigeria was debated by over 45 participants drawn from media support groups, government departments, media organizations, academics, regulators, unions and other professionals over a two-day day period at a validation workshop held in September 2010 in Abuja. Dr. Armstrong Idachaba of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) represented the Minister of Information and Communication, Dr. Dora Akunyili. The report's main findings were presented by its author, Mr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director of Institute for Media and Society (IMS), and participants proposed key recommendations to address the issues identified.
Professor Alfred Opubor, Secretary General and CEO of West African News Media and Development Centre (WANAD), Cotonou, Benin Republic gave the keynote address, in which he traced the history of broadcasting in Nigeria from the colonial period through independence and to the present day. He noted that the broadcasting landscape was dominated by the state throughout, and that even when the regions broke federal government's monopoly in the sector, there was pluralism but not diversity of the media. Professor Alfred Opubor noted that Nigeria presently has no broadcasting policy, though there is a code used by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate broadcasting. He added that the regulator is not independent that the government is actively controlling the regulators. He said with democratization in Nigeria, there is need for reform. He also canvassed for a truly public service broadcaster instead of a state broadcaster and also identified digitization as a challenge that is confronting the broadcast sector in Nigeria today. The report is already available, and will be formally launched in February 2011.
The AfriMAP office will be closed for the Christmas holidays, starting 15 December 2010 until 5 January 2011.
The Africa Governance, Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) is an initiative of the Open Society Foundations in Africa which aims tomonitor and promote compliance by African states with the requirements of good governance, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.To find out more about AfriMAP view: http://www.afrimap.org/ourmission.php
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