Transforming African Good Governance Advocacy Agenda
18 August 2012, Times of Zambia
By Peter Kayula,
There are those who said......'Let"s talk and make serious pronouncements" and those who have said........" Let us sit down and discuss...." and the few who are saying......"Time is up for dialogue....."
However,the demand by an African Good Governance Advocacy Group, for African governments to ratify the charter on democracy,elections and governance and the protocol on thwe right of women in Africa reflects something new in good governance advocacy in Africa today.
The organisation, the State of the Union (SOTU) in a petition to the just-ended African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said they expected the ratification of these agreements before the end of the summit which was due on July, 10, 2012.
They hinted, "as African citizens, we call on you, our goverments to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Protocol on the rights of women in Africa before the end of the African Summit." (The Post Newspaper, July,13, 2012)
Truly,the petition by the State of the Union organisation opens a fresh examination and critical appraisal of our good governance advocacy illitracy in modern Africa.
Good governance is a development issue and Africa is one of the world's regions suffering governance-side constraints such as coups, electoral irregularities,femine,discrimination and violence against women.
Therefore, the demand for a comprehensive advocacy agenda that tracks African leaders' commitment to democracy is key to national development.
The demand for good governence not only in Africa but world-over poses policy challenges. The major cause of poverty in Africa and a big barrier to economic development has been continuous infidelity to the values of good governance.
The organisation, the State of the Union, maintains that the ratification and implementation of the democracy charter and the womens' rights protocol will help establish a culture of gender equality, democratic governance and citizens" participation consistent with the constituent Act of Africa.
The State of the Union also demanded that the African governments take urgent steps and implement the comprehensive investment and support to agriculture development plan that commits goverments on the need to priotise agriculture by harnessing investment and support to agriculture.
The organisation has indeed taken pro-active steps towards a shift in african good governance advocacy from traditional dialogue process to demand approach.
The Zambian situation
The 2009 State of Governance report is the most excellent piece of work on governance in Zambia covering all provinces in both rural and urban areas.
The report, initiated the the Government of the Republic of Zambia in collaboration with the Central Statistical Office (COS), governance institutions,civil societies under the governance sector group indicates the Fith National Development Plan (FNDP) 2007 good governance thematic components as: The administration of justice, constitutionalism,human rights, accountability and transparency.
In 2007, the Zambian government launched the Fifth National Developmnent Plan for the period 2006-2010. The vision on governance was to ensure "total adherence to principles of good governance by 2030."
But just what is good governance?
Good governance is the framework of democratic political rule of a country or nation that respects constitutionalism,the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms improved through an effective inclusive and transparent process.
Governance cuts across all institutions within government but specific governance linkages are confined to 15 central instruments as outlined in the 2009 State of Governance Report-Zambia.
These are: the office of the Vice-President-Parliamentary Business Division which is responsible for coordinating all national Assembly work,The National Assembly,an organ resposible for regulation of all matters pertaining to the life of the House of Parliament.
The Judiciary,a Government wing which was set up by the Constitution to interpret laws and to adjudicate cases that are brought forward by episodes of litigations.
The office of the Auditor General- this organ is often called the external auditor of the Government and is responsible for all ministries and spending agencies, the Electoral Commission Of Zambia (ECZ), the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Others include, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Commission for Investigations, The Human Rights Commission, the Judicial Complaints Authority, the Public Complaints Authority and the Legal Aid Board.
Over the past years, Zambia has made several strides in addressing good governance profile coupled with several reforms in central wings of Government.
Development campaigns led by various line ministries in Government have been launched supported by donor partners resulting in unprecedented interest and demand for better services.
Equally, advocacy efforts have been maintained by several non-governmental organisation (NGOs) matching their experience and testimonies to service deliverly.
However, evidence generation and gathering still indicate marginal benefits to communities and more needs to be done. A research report, The State of Democracy in Zambia just published by the Foundation for Democracy Process (FODEP) and the University Of Zambia Political and Administrative Studies (UNZA-PAS) demonstrates this irony:
"Zambia was a multi-party democracy from October 1964 to December 1972 when a One party State Constitution was introduced, but this ended in 1990. Since the re-introduction of the multi-patry system, many civil society organisations were not affiliated to the ruling party.
However, they have continued to play a watchdog role vis-a-vis the party and the government. Since coming to power in 1991, the Zambian Government formally proclaimed its commiment to democracy. However, a number of contentious issues remained unsettled."
Whereas advocacy at all levels is critical for initiation of policy discussion debates and change, our NGOs continue to face challenges such as: lack of resource mobilisation,lack of multi-sectorial partnership linkages, membership drive resource strained advocacy,monitoring and evaluation of programmes and inadquate capacity for service providers.
It is, therefore,pleasing and suitable in circumstances that an international African good governance organisation_- The Forum For Advocacy For Good Governance,Gender Equity and Justice International (AGE Justice) has come on board in Zambia to strengthen the change of focus from round table discussions and interest to investment of resources in action demonstrative programmes.
The Forum for Advocacy for Good Governance, Gender Equity and Justice International is a non-governmental organisation which was registered under the Societies Act of Zambia.
The organisation was formed in 2010 as an iniative of a series of workshops on good governance organised by the Gilberg research Foundation.
The NGO was formed, among other objectives to advance good governance advocacy in Zambia, to provide a forum for dissemination and debating of good governance related issues that directly affect the patterns of human life and to promote objective policy debates and strenthening of governance education in Zambia.
The Age Justice International has elective and ordinary members in seven provinces in Zambia with the secretariat in Kitwe headed by the Roman Catholic Priest Father Kizito Cholwe, who is the vice-president of the NGO.
The Organisation has offices in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda with head office opening in Lusaka.
The vision of Age Justice International is to champion good governance advocacy and civic education in Zambia as Civil Society For Poverty Reduction board chairperson Partner Siabutusa stressed..."
An informed citizenry is critical to good governance,improved accountability and national development process, including democratic process in the country...." (Post Newspaper May, 14, 2012).
To achive this, we need to transform our advocacy agenda from a dialogue pattern to demand strategy which marks a new era in pro-good governance civil society in Zambia in particular and in Africa in general.
The Author is Age Justice International Coordinator for Good Governance (Zambia Office) and a part-time lecturer Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM Lusaka).