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NEPAD has given Africa a vision -- so rally around

By Graca Machel a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons
at the Kenya APRM Support Mission visit, 26-27 July
NEPAD Secretariat News Letter No 57
July 2004

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Through NEPAD, our African leaders have found an institutionalised mechanism for communication, interaction and consensus-building within our nations. It is an acknowledgment that governments have not been interacting and communicating with the people they represent.

This is the case everywhere in the continent. And that is why the organs of the African Union are looking into ways in which, from the top level, we can open avenues on how those in public office can communicate regularly with the citizens who elected them, and vice-versa.

In this way we can have our nations engaged in dialogue on where we stand, what the challenges are and how we can strategise to meet them.

Now, leaving NEPAD and moving on to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), there is a danger of being discouraged by the failures of the past decades.

In the past, our nations made commitments by signing conventions, treaties and protocols, which were then not properly domesticated. They were not translated into national legislation or national institutions, which meant a lack of implementation of those commitments.

One of the things that the Peer Review is trying to do is to look into all those issues to which a nation has committed itself internationally and find out how they translate into national systems.

Why is this important? It is because we are, and we have to be, part of the global community. And Peer Review allows us to be part of that community.

Nationally speaking, there are laws and strategies which many people are not aware of because of a lack of communication. Now, the Peer Review would like to re-establish those mechanisms of talking to one another, but talking constructively. And this is the responsibility of each one of us at every level.

The reason why we are here [the Kenya APRM Support Mission] is to find out how the country is organised to participate in the APRM.

I would request those civil society organisations who have branches in various districts to take the responsibility of explaining what is the APRM and how it is organised, and then bring back the views from the grassroots to the NEPAD Secretariat.

The challenge is, how do we involve all the people in the APRM process and how do we get the civic movements to talk to one another and contribute to policy shaping, implementation and monitoring. The APRM is giving us an opportunity to open these avenues; once they are opened, they must be sustained.

We have to continue talking to one another, not only between citizens to government, but citizen to citizen too.

As civil society, you cannot afford to say the government has ignored you and therefore you will be out of NEPAD and Peer Review. You and I will be the losers.

NEPAD is an African initiative, and you have to be inside and make it work for you. It has given us, Africans, the vision to rally around.

We should all be concerned about how it can be shaped, sharpened and improved. Please be on board.

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