Mauritius was among the first countries to sign up for the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and among the first four to be selected for review. The national selfassessment process was launched in early 2004, and a preliminary draft of the self-assessment report prepared by March 2005. The process then stalled, due in large part to ineffective leadership and management of the process, in particular a failure to ensure broad participation from civil society. It is paradoxical that Mauritius – often cited as a developmental success story on account of its remarkable economic achievements, harmonious multi-ethnic make-up and political stability – has not yet been able to deliver on the APRM. The new government, in power since mid-2005, has indicated its willingness to re-launch the process in Mauritius.
A private consultancy firm selected by the goverment to carry out the process recently indicated that the re-launch of the process would start in early June 2007. This will provide an opportunity to rectify previous errors and prepare a highquality national report and programme of action. However, to do so, there are some challenges that will have to be met, the most significant being to ensure broad and meaningful civil society participation; and for the two ministries largely
responsible for implementation of the APRM process – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance – to agree upon the pertinence of the review for Mauritius and demonstrate the political will for its implementation. Conviction that the review is a valuable instrument towards the deepening of democracy in Mauritius is essential for its success; obtaining this remains elusive.
This paper sets out the different stages of the APRM process that has taken place in Mauritius from the signing of the memorandum of understanding establishing the APRM in July 2003, to the country visit of a team from the APRM secretariat in April 2006 to re-start the process. The paper then presents an evaluation of the process and the problems it has faced. These factors include the lack of political leadership and a common vision amongst the main actors responsible for implementation of the process; poor understanding and appreciation of the underlying objectives and raison d’кtre of the APRM; a highly state-centric approach; weak participation of civil society; the absence of any prior assessment of the financial costs of the exercise, and confusion regarding sources of funding; the lack of an
effective communications strategy; the lack of technical capacity to conduct the review; and failure to comply with the essential guiding principles of the exercise.
The paper concludes by making a number of recommendations. These include revisiting the choice of the focal point, indigenising the questionnaire, appointing expert technical teams and ensuring that the review is researchbased. None of these recommendations will be meaningful without the necessary political commitment and the full understanding of the APRM philosophy.
The fact that Mauritius has not been able to deliver on the exercise has been, according to a number of stakeholders, a serious source of embarrassment for the government. Yet if it is merely ‘the politics of embarrassment’ that will push Mauritius to move forward with the APR, the government would have failed to comprehend the underlying philosophy of the APR, and will end up once again with a report that does not reflect the voices of the people.
The relaunch of the Mauritius APRM process in June 2007 is welcome. It is hoped that this report can make a contribution towards its success.