African Parliaments becoming a force?
Mar 31, 2008
The UK’s Africa All Party Parliamentary Group (AAPPG), has just released its report on Strengthening Parliaments in Africa: Improving Support.
The report explores the factors that hold African parliaments back and how international donors can better support them. The report will be on their website later this week. We list some of the findings below.
WHAT SHOULD DONORS DO?
Until recently donors have focussed on working with the Executive and often ignored parliaments. Sometimes they even undermined them. There are signs, however, that this neglect of parliaments has been recognised and is changing. See, for example, the UNDP’s recent work in this regard: http://sdnhq.undp.org/governance/parls/
Donors must approach parliaments in their political context and base work on a thorough understanding of the pressures, interests and actors that shape parliamentary power.
Parliamentary strengthening will only succeed if it is pulled by a range of local actors, not just pushed by donors. Initiatives must build on local efforts to strengthen parliaments.
Development partners must ensure that their work does not marginalise or undermine parliaments and that the parliaments of recipient countries are encouraged to play a full part in development relationships.
What has your experience been of donors’ work with legislares?
Other findings of the report are:
African parliaments are exerting growing influence on how their countries are governed.
Despite this growth, insufficient constitutional and other provisions continue to constrain the role of parliaments. Even if they enjoy robust powers on paper, the political realities inside and outside parliament mean that parliaments often fail to exercise effective scrutiny over executives. Problems of institutional capacity also continue to loom large.
African citizens and their political leaders are the most important groups for strengthening their parliaments. Development partners can, however, also play a role.