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African Peer Review Criticized for Inaction

The mandate of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is to promote democratic principles and institutions, and good governance in Africa. But with recent controversial democratic elections around the continent, the question is being asked whether the African Peer Review Mechanism has been promoting the usual so-called old boys club among African leaders.

Grace Akumu is the former Chairperson of the National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism for Kenya. She was fired in 2005 for criticizing the lack of accountability in the Kenyan Peer Review Mechanism. Akumu told VOA the African Peer Review Mechanism is a stillborn baby.

“The African Peer Review secretariat in South Africa sides with any African government. They do not criticize any African government, even those who have signed and ratified the Peer Review. So the Peer Review is actually an extension of African governments,” she said.

Akumu said the African Peer Review Mechanism is a good idea which time has yet to come for Africa, and she blamed African leaders for its shortcomings.

“You have competent people in the secretariat but they are all compromised by governments. When the government of Kenya sacked me because of raising issues of transparency and accountability, I wrote to them; I called them. They never protected the institution of Peer Review Mechanism. They let the governments of Africa and the government of Kenya to go the way they wanted. And that is now what is going to happen even with the Nigerian election. They will let the Nigerian government go the way it wants to go; I think that is very sad thing. That was not why the Peer Review was set up in the first place,” Akumu said.

She described as shameful the fact that African governments depend on outsiders to criticize how elections are conducted on the continent.

“They never said anything when Meles Zenawi rigged the elections and so many Ethiopians died; they will not say anything now that (President) Obasanjo and his group have rigged the elections in Nigeria and disappointed the entire Africa because the whole looks toward Nigeria, and if Nigeria cannot behave responsibly and democratically, I can tell you it is such a let down on the continent; and they have never said anything when (President) Museveni bought the entire parliament to remove the constitutional clause that give him two terms to rule. Now he’s going to rule for life,” she said.

Akumu again said Africans want the Peer Review Mechanism but bad inherent leadership on the continent has made the mechanism ineffective.

“The leadership is still inherently corrupt. Look at Obasanjo, the political leader of the APRM, and now he handed over to Meles Zenawi. Can you believe it my dear? It is a pity that Meles Zenawi is now going to be head of the Peer Review mechanism in the continent. He has no moral authority to head the African Peer Review Mechanism, and that can show you and the whole world that the African Peer Review is very much stillborn if it is leaders like Meles Zenawi is going to lead the African Peer Review,” Akumu said.