While South Africa is seen as a reference point for development from which other African States can learn, the country itself has few areas of concern that it needs to address.
This and other findings are contained in the report of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) following its recent Peer Review of South Africa.
The APRM is an African owned and led process of self-assessment under the auspices of the African Union (AU). It is aimed at entrenching democracy and good governance among the Member States of the AU, who voluntarily acceded to the initiative.
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Releasing the report, the chair of the National Governing Council (NGC) of South Africa, Thulani Tshefuta, said South Africa had received two-pronged feedback.
“The feedback suggested that there are areas of best practice which South Africa can share with other countries, areas other countries can learn from.”
These areas of best practice include the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, areas of cooperative governance, the strength of the oversight bodies and institutions supporting democracy – like the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission and the IEC.
“They have also highlighted media freedom as one of those elements, including open budget processes that are interactive with society…” Tshefuta said.
However, he said, there were a few areas of concern requiring timeous intervention.
Leading the pack is the challenge of excessively high levels of unemployment, especially among the youth, and corruption.
“Inequality is very glaring. It is an area of concern that we must do something about as a nation. Corruption is one of those areas of concern that has been raised, even when our leadership of a country response to COVID-19 was commended, but still the stain of corruption was diluting [gains].
“Poor service delivery and incidents of xenophobia are included in those areas of concern that will still need to be attended to.”
On the theme of democracy and political governance, the APRM highlighted that South Africa needs to move with speed in amending the Electoral Act. The APRM said this should be in line with previous decisions of the Constitutional Court.
Tshefuta said the area of social economic development highlights basic service delivery and poverty as issues that need to be attended to.
“There’s a new emerging thematic area of the APRM that focuses on the resilience of the State, which we are the first country to be assessed on. It highlights areas of the agility of the State as a whole, responsiveness and sustainability,” he said.
In its 23 months of being in office, he said the NGC of the APRM has made meaningful headway.
“We can [count] amongst our achievements the fact that the President has been able to be peer reviewed when he was still the chair of the APRM of Heads of State.
“It would have sent a very bad message for South Africa, the chairman of the AU, for South Africa to be chair of the forum of Heads of State of the APRM but South Africa is not counted amongst those who are being peer reviewed. And so at least we’ve been be able to make sure that our President achieves that when he is at the helm of those structures,” Tshefuta said.
He said currently, the APRM National Structures are seized with the development of the National Programme of Action and will submit periodic progress reports on its implementation.