Thursday, January 29, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Africa News On Line
Nairobi, Kenya
January 29, 2009

Africa has reason to worry that the once much talked about APRM is fast losing its glamour. Its architects are busy mutilating it.
First Obasanjo soiled it after being its founder chairman for years then went ahead to rig the Nigerian elections.

Thabo Mbeki attempted to present a fake national report to the AU summit after his government wrote the report against the protocols of the APRM. Mbeki has since been removed from office for abuse of power- a cardinal sin in Africa why the APRM was formed in the first place.

One of the first three countries to undergo the process was Kenya. Now it has emerged that neither Kenya nor the rest o the continent has ever learnt anything from the process. Kenya’s 2007 elections were rigged as usual. The violence that followed; a sure proof of bad governance caught the world by surprise but not unexpected. Today, high stakes public corruption cases are the order of the day in Kenya.

Ghana; that heralded example of the APRM process has also fallen by the wayside. The much acclaimed John Kufuor tried to do a “419” on Ghanaians just a day before he left office. He got a Parliamentary Sub Committee to approve his exit package far beyond Ghanaian means and five times more than an American retiring president can take. In the end, angry Ghanaians called him a thieving president!

Let us remember that this taxing and expensive mechanism was aimed at encouraging the adoption of policies, standards and practices for promoting political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental integration.

It was supposed to achieve these goals through the sharing of experiences and consolidation of the best practices and achievements, including identification of the weaknesses and assessments of needs in the area of capacity building.
It was meant to pluck Africa from the dungeon of corruption, undemocratic rule and mismanagement of national resources. It was supposed to improve the lives of the people of this continent.

The principles adopted by the founders stipulated that, any review carried out in the framework of the Mechanism was to be carried out on the basis of technical skills, be credible and devoid of any political manipulation.

Concerning the staff in charge of the review, the document specified that APRM activities be conducted and managed by a group of 7 eminent African persons. Members of the group would be Africans with proven experience in the APRM focus areas, be of high moral integrity with proof of their commitment to the ideals of Pan-Africanism.

Now, as we grapple with rumors that the Ethiopian Government’s report, whose Prime Minister is the current APRM Chairman, was doctored before being presented to the APRM Summit, another bombshell has been dropped from the West African Coast regarding the inappropriate activities involving a Head of State and a member of the APRM Panel!

Two newspapers; Le Quotidien of Senegal and Le Matinal of Benin have detailed the gory exploits of one Marie Angelique Savane who, until December 2008 was a Panel Member of the Eminent Persons leading the team that assessed Benin’s process.
The two papers, from two neighboring countries wrote about this incident in November and December 2008 and challenged their readers to judge for themselves whether Mrs. Savané, in her practices, complied with the APRM rules of engagement.
When contacted to confirm or deny the allegations leveled against her, she avoided the press like a plague.

However, the Beninese newspaper, Le Matinal has revealed some unangelic acts of Marie Angélique Savané, wife of Landing Savané, Minister of State in Abdoulaye Wade’s government. Mrs. Savané, a panel member in charge of the Benin APRM Country Review, has been accused of bleeding Benin’s public funds, specifically the budget of the Marina Presidential Palace, where she was registered as an Advisor to the President of the Benin Republic, Yayi Boni.

Le Matinal issue of November 28, 2008, wrote that Mrs. Savané, in charge of the review of the Republic of Benin, was effectively paid from the national budget. The report adds that she was rewarded “For the good and loyal services rendered to top government authorities”.

Appointed to assess the management of public resources in Benin and paid for this mission by APRM Secretariat in South Africa, Mrs. Savané, according to our colleague of Le Matinal, also received from the State of Benin, housing allowances, subscription to a pension scheme and several other allowances.

Journalist Jean-Christophe Houngbo of Benin, in reference to the Budget of the Presidency to the National Assembly of Benin, reveals that Mrs. Marie Angélique Savané, although a Panel Member of APRM, managed to get quickly appointed as a Special Adviser to President Yayi Boni with a salary index of 1,100 acquired as of 1st January 2008. For her new status, Mrs. Angélique Marie Savané was paid a gross monthly salary of US $8000.00 effective 1st January 2008. Her monthly subscription to a pension scheme amounted to US$ 1102.00 per month with a monthly housing allowance of US$ 800 for a residence she did not have in Benin

These were not the only favours enjoyed by the Panel Member of the African Peer Review Mechanism. In fact, another chapter entitled “Various Allowances” was opened for her and estimated at US$ 4000.00 per month, according to Le Matinal of 28 November 2008.

And what is more, declares the Beninese journalist, Mrs. Angélique Marie Savané, who was already highly paid for her work in the Republic of Benin by APRM, also received from the Presidency of Cotonou a constraint allowance of US $ 1800.00 per month. Another budget for “accommodation” was opened for her by the cantors of Change to the tune of US $ 500.00 per day.

These facts, revealed by the Beninese press, are taken from a document presented to the Palais des Gouverneurs in Porto-Novo in November 2008, entitled, “National Budget -2008 Management-Nominative Status of the number present as of 1st January 2008”.

This document of which Le Quotidien managed to obtain a copy, mentions that she has been receiving a fixed monthly allowance of US $ 800.00 since 1st January 2008, water allowance of US $ 900 and telephone allowance of US$ 500.00.

According to journalist Jean Christophe Houngbo of Benin, the irregularities committed by the APRM Panel member had for weeks preoccupied members of the National Assembly of Benin yet Mrs. Savane was not an employee of the State of Benin.

This case is likely to cause a lot of stir in Benin, according to the Benin daily newspaper Le Matinal. Media reports already indicate that Beninese MPs across the political divide want to have more information about this case. It seems that plans are underway to arrest the Minister of Finance, Soulé Mana Lawani, and his colleague of the Public Action Assessment Ministry, Pascal Irénée Koupaki, for these shameful irregularities during these times of serious economic crisis.

Now the question to ask is this: How credible are these APRM assessments across the continent when some of the eminent panel members themselves are not so eminent, let alone Heads of State who would like to manipulate their country reports?

Sources: Le Quotidien Newspaper in Senegal and Le Matinal Newspaper in Benin
Contributors: M. Gueye and M Soro of Le Quotidien Newspaper in Senegal