Mbeki brainchild 'now a shambles'

31 March 2014 - 02:07 By Sibongakonke Shoba

The African Peer Review Mechanism - set up by former president Thabo Mbeki to tackle the continent's problems - is a shambles.

According to a report by former mechanism chairman Akere Muna, the institution lacks backing by African leaders and is being "driven into the ground" by its CEO and its secretariat that can barely function.

The mechanism has in the past served as a reliable indicator of emerging troubles on the continent.

An African Peer Review Mechanism report alerted the government to tensions between locals and foreigners in South Africa that culminated in 2008's wave of xenophobic violence.

The mechanism was created by Mbeki and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to promote good governance and democracy.

Though 33 countries have agreed to have their governance reviewed by the African Peer Review Mechanism, only 17 have undergone such a review since the mechanism's inception.

The mechanism has failed to produce an annual report for the past three years - and its last attempt at a report had to be aborted because the document was riddled with errors.

The report incorrectly named heads of state, attributed the wrong flags to countries and listed false population figures.

Muna placed the blame on the body's CEO, Assefa Shifa.

Muna claimed Shifa was appointed irregularly.

Shifa, in response, has claimed that the error-ridden report was due to sabotage.

But, said Muna: "The fact remains that such a document was prepared and ready for distribution and nobody on the staff of the African Peer Review Mechanism caught the mistakes."

Muna accused Shifa of running the institution like a spaza shop - hiring and firing personnel without consulting the body's panel.

Shifa, said Muna, fired his deputy and allegedly ignored orders to reinstate him.

"He hired and fired without consulting anyone. He increased salaries, and made appointments and promotions, without any consultation," claimed Muna.

"New employees appeared and disappeared without any information supplied to the panel about their status, functions or duration of employment."