MASERU – The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has, since inception, had a false start because there is lack of positive intercourse between the national state elites and citizens. This is according to political science teacher and former Lesotho government spokesperson, Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane, commenting on the country’s efforts to recommit to the APRM. “It was false from the onset,” Selinyane said. The APRM is a self and member evaluation body meant to promote good governance among its members focusing on democracy, political stability, economic integration, sustainable development and corporate governance.
Lesotho acceded to the APR in July 2004 as the 12th member to consent to the mechanism. As of June 2022, 42 Member States of the Union had voluntarily acceded to the mechanism as participating states. The body’s subcommittee and a focal point were established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre in October 2005.
The country’s participation in the initiative has, however, been shaky as it stopped operating in 2012 due to lack of political will from the government. Selinyane also argues that, in his view, there has been little to no progress within the APRM beyond the initial report produced by consultancy assessment on APRM members by the African Union and the APRM secretariat from which self-assessment and improvements were intended to be made.
He went on to observe that corporate governance has collapsed in Lesotho, saying “the reports of the public accounts committee withdrawn from the reports of the Auditor General point that the massive and on-going, unmitigated and unremitting corruption in the public sector continues unabated despite Lesotho’s subscription to the APRM for donkey years.” He said the APRM has continuously violated its precepts and principles which are supposed to inform and be the base and indicator of progress on the peer review. The APRM recently concluded a week-long sensitisation mission to Lesotho, which lasted from June 27 June to July 1.
The visit was meant to assist Lesotho to revitalise the Africa Peer Review process in the country, and provide technical support on re-establishment of the mechanism’s national structures. At the conclusion of the mission, Lesotho affirmed its commitment to revive the APRM, re-establish its national structures and commence preparations to conduct a review in 2023. Speaking to Public Eye on the side-lines of one of various APRM meetings, the Executive Director of the Lesotho Council of Non-Government Organisations (LCN), who is also the initial deputy chairperson of the APRM Governing Council, Seabata Motsamai, said a country’s commitment and determination are of outmost importance in order for APRM to make progress.
Motsamai maintains that the APRM remains a good initiative for Lesotho so it is unfortunate there was a slight suspension of operations. He said because of this, Lesotho has been unable to get a clear evaluation of its position in terms of service delivery, financial growth and governance. He said Lesotho will only improve on its shortcomings when it has an outside review of how it has been operating and other countries to compare to. Other objectives of the mission were to sensitise stakeholders about the APRM and its country review processes, explain the role of various stakeholders in the APRM review process, as well as discuss the way forward for APRM in Lesotho, including the possibility of undertaking a second review and/or targeted review on a particular theme.
The mission, which was led by the CEO of the APRM Continental Secretariat and his staff, also included APRM Communications Champions, appointed by the CEO in December 2021, to create more visibility about APRM’s programming, activities and country review missions. Among others, while in Lesotho the APRM mission paid courtesy calls to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, conducted a series of consultations with relevant government ministers, and the Speaker of the National Assembly Sephiri Motanyane.
The mission also included a sensitisation workshop for stakeholders from government, academia, civil society, private sector and development partners, on how best to support the revitalisation of the APRM in Lesotho, as well as media training for representatives of major media outlets in the country.