Crime drags down SA’s governance ranking

High crime levels dragged South Africa’s ranking down to fifth place out of 53 African countries in a report on good governance released on Monday.

“South Africa scored highest in public management and lowest in the area of personal safety,” Mo Ibrahim foundation board director Mamphela Ramphele said in Johannesburg.

“We are not doing so well when it comes to personal safety issues, crime, and so on,” she said at the annual release of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance report in Johannesburg.

“South Africa is in the top 10 in every other category — but [with crime] we are lounging down there with the Somalians of this day, and Zimbabwe. It’s not a pretty place.”

Ramphele said South Africa had achieved an overall score of 70 for governance quality, which put it in fifth place, but, in the personal safety sub-category, South Africa was ranked 44th.

The countries that scored lower than South Africa on personal safety were Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

Mauritius, the Seychelles and Cape Verde were ranked as the safest countries in Africa, with Botswana at number six and Namibia at number eight.

The report measures personal safety by looking at the levels of criminality in a country and the prevalence of violent crime and violent social unrest, among other factors.

A total of 35 African countries did worse in the Safety and Rule and Law categories than the year before.

Ramphele said she believed the root of the problem was in the “political culture” of countries.

“Governments get tempted to start wanting to regulate the things they shouldn’t be regulating,” she said.

She cited the African National Congress proposal to set up a Media Appeals Tribunal as an example, but said the data used in this report was for the year 2008/2009 and did not include the latest information on the tribunal.

‘Performance doesn’t match policies’
Ramphele said South Africa did well in some areas and was ranked the third best country in southern Africa.

However, there was still much room for improvement.

“In our country, South Africa, we have fantastic policies but the performance doesn’t always match the policies,” she said.

She said the aim of a report like this was to keep close tabs on governments, arguing that the only solution to better governance was citizens’ involvement.

Asked if Africa’s traditional high voter turn-outs did not show that citizens were involved, she said this was not enough.

“There are numerous examples of abuse of citizens at polls,” said Ramphele, saying often voters get bussed in to polling stations or were given blankets to vote for specific candidates.

Ramphele said citizens should act like shareholders in companies and “engage” when they were not happy with delivery.

“You write letters, you call the chair[man], that’s engagement. You don’t only go to meetings. Voter turnout is no helpful measure; it does not give quality participation.

Ramphele said African governments needed to move away from “harping” about their liberation efforts of the past, and instead should start looking toward the future and focus on delivery.

She said for the second consecutive year, the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership was not awarded.

Ramphele said the foundation’s prize committee decided that it would undermine its cause, which is to promote excellence, by handing out the award this year.

“It is for exceptional leadership. We are not going to say because someone did a reasonable job we are going to award.”

The prize was not awarded in 2009 either, for the same reason.

Previous laureates included former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, former Botswana president Festus Mogae and former South African president Nelson Mandela.– Sapa.

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Fienie Grobler
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