Africa: Red Flags Ignored - Governance Values and Practices in Africa

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SAIIA Occasional Paper No 172, January 2014

Values are essential to set up normative standards that are indicative of the qualities of governance. This paper describes and analyses trends of governance values and practices in Africa using secondary data.

There are positive and negative governance values in Africa. To reverse the negative governance values, which are entrenched in traditions and practices in politics and governance, the member states of the African Union (AU) outlined a compelling vision for the norm of democratic governance values on the continent in its different instruments.

These initiatives reflect the changing governance values and practices on the continent, and distinguish the AU from its predecessor the Organisation for African Unity (OAU).

Yet the member states of the AU have not committed themselves equally to own or work towards ratification, domestication and compliance with these standards.

There is also a lack of political commitment to regional standards. Hence, this research recommends that the African Union member states address these problems. In addition, more attention must be paid to building democratic governance as African challenges are rooted in governance problems driven by negative values.

In so far as values are universal, they can also be particular to a specific region or country. In this regard, governance values that are intrinsic to Africa, such as peer review, solidarity, consensus and communalism, which are deeply rooted in African culture, have not been communicated effectively at a regional and international level.

Communicating and establishing appreciation for African particularities, contexts and perspectives would enhance the image of the continent in the development and application of positive governance values. This requires strengthening Africa's engagements on regional and global dialogue platforms.

In this regard, it is vital to consolidate action on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African Governance Platform to facilitate information flows, co-ordination and evaluation of the implementation of common normative rules and standards that promote governance values on the continent.

The role of political leadership is paramount, as Africa's greatest deficit is its dearth of moral leadership that adheres to ideal governance values and shows real commitment towards social transformation.

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