There is need for the Government to fully fund the implementation of the African Parliamentarians' Network on Development Evaluation (APNODE) to strengthen national evaluation ecosystems and foster development.
Founded in March 2014, the objective of APNODE is to enhance the capacity of African Parliamentarians to improve their oversight, policy making, and national decision making by ensuring it is evidence-based.
The network also works to bridge the gap between evaluators (who provide impartial evidence) and parliamentarians; encourage parliamentarians to institutionalise evaluations and support them in ensuring that evaluations conducted at country level are responsive to the needs of women and vulnerable groups.
Its objectives are organised around three main axes, which are advocacy and networking, capacity development, outreach and resource mobilisation in order to expand the network and generate awareness on the importance of evaluation for development effectiveness.
Zimbabwe hosted APNODE Second Annual General Meeting on August 15 and 16, 2016 in Harare. Sixty-two participants from 16 countries took part in the meeting that stressed the need for consolidation and expansion of the network.
There are cooperating partners like, The African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), a non-profit umbrella organisation for African Voluntary Organisations for Professional Development (VOPEs).
It serves as a source of evaluation knowledge for individual evaluators in countries where national evaluation associations do not exist. The issue was raised recently in Parliament by Harare Metropolitan Proportionate Representative Ms Paurina Mpariwa during a debate on the Report of the Zimbabwe delegation to the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference on Monitoring and Evaluation held in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire.
She said the report contains a lot of information that is a bit technical hence the need for Parliaments and Governments to take action in terms of capacity trainings that deal with monitoring and evaluation.
"There are countries that have been mentioned in the report in terms of best practices where Zimbabwe can borrow from.
"The country has neighbours that it can copy from. Zambia has done so well in terms of monitoring and evaluation.
"As Zimbabwe and as part of Africa, we have never bothered to check and compare notes with them as to how they do their monitoring and evaluation.
"When you have not done enough monitoring and evaluation, what you face is loses and loses. You also have cases of corruption, you have underdevelopment and misallocations do happen because people are not prioritising any of the needs that are best for the development of the country," says Mpariwa.
Zimbabwe should fully fund the implementation of APNODE's development evaluation that will inform appropriate policies and legislation that address how the country can exploit its abundant natural resources to promote development and how it can reduce capital flight.
Hon Mpariwa added that there was need for political will to drive the implementation on the monitoring and evaluation systems so that everyone else gets to be targeted and they get trained.
"Many blueprints in Zimbabwe proposed curbing corruption and enhance accountability, but without implementation because of lack of political will, nothing will change. We have financial outflows that happen in ministries and departments but nothing has been done," said Hon Mpariwa.
A fully serviced and functional APNODE chapter in the country will enable a stronger focus on development evaluation. MPs and evaluation institutions in the country should be empowered to fully benefit from the tools, capacity and support of the network to engage in evaluation processes. The country should bring together evaluators both local and foreign with the aim to build the culture and capacity in monitoring and evaluation as a means of enhancing development outcomes.
Although the country has made significant progress on ease of doing business indicators with the World Bank saying that they have been tangible improvements including greater transparency and efficiency, better regulation, fewer, faster procedures and lower costs Zimbabwe is ranked 160th out of 175 countries on the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.
With APNODE, parliamentarians will help address the issue of corruption which is deterring the country from development. Parliamentarians make important decisions and it is important that they have reliable data derived from evaluations so they can make informed decisions and shame any acts of corruption in the country.
Evaluation is important to continuously improve the manner in which authorities handle their duties as it ensures that initiatives are effective and reflect community need. Evaluations provide examples of success and this can be used to inspire others and improve development in the country.
Chegutu West MP, Dexter Nduna weighed in saying as long as the country do no invest in evaluating development using empirical and scientific evidence which parliamentarians would have been tutored on by developing partners and other coordinators and cooperating partners, the country is certainly leaving a lot to chance.
"Madam Speaker, this was a network which was initiated by African parliamentarians in March of 2014.
"I stand here to also say that in that platform, there are two surviving members from the Eighth Parliament or members of APNODE, myself and Hon Mpariwa.
"It would be very prudent that there is continuation and continuity building on that pedestal so that there is no shortage of continuity, but it is also my clarion call, based on that we revitalise and formulate our local APNODE group that deals with evidence-based evaluation here in Parliament.
"It is not that I want to head it, but I would not mind. I can share my experiences on development of evaluating using empirical and systemic evidence," said Hon Nduna.
If fully adopted and have the necessary funding, through APNODE parliamentarians will be knowledgeable about the importance of using evidence generated by evaluation for oversight, policy-making and national decision making.
APNODE will enhance the capacity of individual parliamentarians to demand solid evaluation evidence and make use of it in parliamentary duties of oversight, legislative and representative role.
This will enhance that visibility and accountability in the manner in which parliamentarians also carry out our mandate.
Government on its part should at all costs encourage parliamentarians to work towards the institutionalisation of evaluation to form evidence-based decision making and policy-making.
There is also need to support parliaments in ensuring that evaluations at country level are responsive to concerns of gender equality. APNODE will empower parliamentarians and work as a bridge or a gap between evaluators as providers of impartial evidence and parliamentarians as users of evaluation evidence.
In addition to the African Development Bank (AfDB) and national parliaments of respective APNODE members, APNODE benefits from the support of a number of other partner organisations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, UN Women and Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results.
The network membership is gradually growing with current membership including parliamentarians from Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.