Raaghnie Autar: Evaluating Five Arguments of the Mauritius Youth Parliament Session 3

Good Governance by Marie Valérie Uppiah (Faculty member University of Mauritius)

Simply put: taking actions, making decisions and allocating resources for the good of society. Policy makers and decision makers come together to try to find solutions for the good of everyone.

Different types of governance:

1.Economic and financial development

2.Environmental governance

3.Corporate governance

4.Marine governance

I would like to add:

5.Political governance

6.Public governance

5 topics discussed at the Mauritius Youth Parliament ­ session: Good Governance

Responsibility

Georg von Fingerhut, international delegate from Germany, Russia and Japan, spoke about the influence of culture and morals on good governance in Japan. Ideologie: your responsibility to the world, your responsibility to your family and your responsibility to yourself. This “your responsibility” is what I refer to as good governance on micro level. Everyone has responsibilities, and if only everyone lived up to them the world might have been a better place. But what better place to start good governance than at micro level? As Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I believe we all can be role models on good governance and lead the way to higher levels: corporate level, economic level or political level.

Education

Sarah­Leigh Elago, international delegate from Namibia, spoke about many things and briefly mentioned the education in her country. I was very stunned by this topic, as she mentioned that education was not free in Namibia. She said there were protest for free education and that it recently got implemented, as I believe should be. In The Netherlands you have togo to school until the age of 18, or if you have accomplished certain level. Education is a fundamental human right and no child should be denied, even if they or their parents cannot afford it. It’s the country’s responsibility to invest in a well educated nation.

Corruption

Osman Mohamed, Member of Parliament, started with a story:

“Once upon a time there was a conference in country A and a minister from country B attended the conference. When the minister from country B went to the house of the minister from country

A he was very impressed. He asked: “what is your salary and how come you have such a beautiful house?” Then the minister from country A opened up the window and asked: “you see the road over there?” The answer was “yes”. “See, when it was built a lot of money went into building that road and some of it came over here. That is how my house is so beautiful.”

And then 2 years down the road, things changed. This time the conference was in country B and the minister from country A came to visit the conference, but also went to the house of the minister from country B. The minister was so impressed, he said: “Wauw, your house is much more beautiful than mine. How much is your salary?” The minister from country B opened his window and said “Look outside.” But the minister from A could not see anything. “Yes precisely, everything came here. That is how, my house is more beautiful than yours.”

Right after the story the Member of Parliament assured us that this is not the case in Mauritius. Yet over and over again corruption is a topic which keeps on coming back and politics is being referred to as a dirty game. ICAC (International Comission Against Corruption) and YAC (Youth Agaist Corruption) are active in Mauritius. If corruption was not the case in Mauritius, why are such bodies needed in the first place? I believe such bodies are needed for several reasons on short term, such as doing research on corruption, be the place to be to report cases of corruption and spread awareness. On the long term they can definitely make a change: more awareness, less corruption and maybe even no corruption at all.

Political funding

There happens to be a fine line between political funding and bribery: it’s the 200,000 MRU mark. But it’s hard to point out when it’s actually bribery or when it’s political funding. I believe there is nothing wrong in supporting a political party. If they represent what you stand for, it’s only logic. But for many it’s also very logical to expect a favour in return for a big amount like 200,000 MRU. On one hand I do understand, it’s a big amount sothe giver may want worth his money. Even though I understand, I do not agree or support this. Because it is bribery and it’s wrong, very wrong.

Bad governance

A question came from the audience: “If we are in need of a Ministry of Good Governance, do you think we have bad governance?” Osman Mohamed said very frankly, “yes”. I really respect his honesty. Admitting there is a problem is the first step to solve it. The next step would be taking action. With the Good Governance & Integrity Bill the first step in taking action has been set. I believe Mauritius might be an example for other countries which are suffering from bad governance.

Voluntarism

On the way to the Mauritian Youth Parliament we already spoke on the subject, the discussion continued at the session. The discussion was about if voluntarism should be free or if there should be at least some sort of incentive. I strongly support voluntarism, but in life there are some things I will not do for free. In my case that’s whatever is linked to my studies. I didn’t go to

school for over 20 years to fulfill my profession for free. I study Communications, so whenever the task is to do social media management, social media strategy or design websites I would like to get the recognition and some sort of incentive. For voluntary work not related to my profession I don’t mind doing it for free.

Safety

Safety was a topic not discussed during the Mauritian Youth Parliament session on good governance, but since it concerns The Netherlands and Europe at the very moment I would like to add this as an extra topic. Currently the safety situation in Europe is very instable. We have to face two major problems: ISIS and the refugees from Syria. I will continue on the topic of the refugees from Syria in The Netherlands. Whether the way things are being handled these days is yet to be proven good or bad governance.

From humanitarian point of view I believe that we should help people in need, but as a Dutch citizen I understand the fears that come with taking in the refugees. Many refugees enter Europe without passports or other legal documents, sometimes we literally don’t know who we are dealing with. Many children died on the way to a better and safer life, and I don’t think that any parent would take the risk of losing their child if the situation wasn’t bad enough.

We give them all the basics they need: shelter, food and clothes. On a longer term even education. But is it worth feeling unsafe? The feeling of unsafety comes from the fear of the unknown. There are just too many question marks. As I said before, it’s debatable if this is good or bad governance.

Raaghnie Autar: A critical review of ”Athal,K. 2015. Ramrajya: Chapter 7: Good Governance

Micro level good governance

Good governance gets more and more publicity on international and national level, but usually stays on such high levels. As a delegate from The Netherlands I came to Mauritius to learn more on the subject during the International Forum for Good Governance. When speaking about good governance on micro level I discussed the personal decision making process on the topics of voting and political leadership with other delegates at the forum. I’m pleased to share my thoughts on these topics, where I compare the course of events in The Netherlands with Mauritius.

Voting

In The Netherlands youngsters get educated in secondary school on politics years before they are allowed to vote. The educational programme includes the history of Dutch politics, the political movements and their views on various topics, the development over the years and the current course of events. This way the youngsters have the basic knowledge to make a responsible vote once they reach the age of 18. In Mauritius youngsters are not being tought about politics in the classroom, but are expected to use their vote wisely. How can we expect youngsters to make the right decision when they are not informed well?Where Dutch youngsters vote with at least some basic knowledge, which they can expand in several ways, I wonder based what do Mauritian nowadays’ youngsters vote? Caste, religion, culture or without giving it sufficient thought simply their parents choice? Athal (2015) mentioned that voting isn’t about caste, religion and/or culture, but about who is most fit for the job.

I firmly believe that the educational system should be theuncorrupted source to learn the basics of good governance on micro level to set the foundation for each and every youngster. I can’t say much about in which phase politics should be included in the educational program, because the educational system isn’t the same as in The Netherlands. My advice would be, just like in The Netherlands, that youngsters should be aware of the political arena before they reach the legal age to vote. By being well informed and by making an advised choice during elections citizens, youngsters as well as elderly, take their responsibility in their contribution for good governance on micro level.

“When the power of our votes turn into the power to turn an ordinary man into a leader of a country, we give with that a certain air of importance.” ­ Athal (2015, page 228)

Political Leadership

As mentioned before, youngsters in The Netherlands can expand their knowledge on politics in several ways. For example, they can easily access the political programme and history, join in debates and if they would like to contribute they can already join political parties. If they want to be a political leader they must join a political party, follow trainings for campaigning, debating and media and get involved as soon as possible on a very local level. In Mauritius the past decades the same political leaders have been in charge of the country. That must mean that, at least in those politcal parties, the past few decades no (former) youngster was trained, prepared and pushed forward as a (new) political leader. I honestly would like to get an answer on the WHY?Is it because current political leaders are not willing to step down? Are youngsters not willing to involve? Is there a procedure to become a political leader in Mauritius I may not know about? Let’s be real, those very same political leaders who have been in charge for the past few decades won’t live forever and if not now when will they invest in the future, the youth?

Being in Mauritius as a delegate I can see how time and effort are being invested in future leaders of Mauritius on a non­political level. I wish this youngster generation to open an eye for the situation in Mauritius and bring the change they want and deserve.

Pooja Bhatoo: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are major players in development aid today. Good governance is both a growing concept and concern in all institutions which is believed to be of major importance and should be applied at all levels of operation; be it strategic planning, accountability, administration and human resources. Knack and Keefer (2003) find that the quality of institutions is crucial to growth and development.

In order to better understand the importance and implementation of good governance in NGOs, it is a pre-requisite to acquaint oneself with the definitions of the two terms. Charnovitz (1997) posits that NGOs are groups of individuals organized for various reasons that engage human imagination and aspiration which are set up to advocate a particular cause or to carry out programs on the ground. Governance, on the other hand, is an inclusive term and involves formal institutions of decision-making. It can be regarded as constituting an aspect of good governance.  It may be referred to as an aspiration or ambition, which assumes that the process of governing meets certain standards, as explained in the World Bank’s policy research working paper on Governance Indicators (Kaufmann and Kraay, 2008). Kaufmann et al. (2000) defines governance as the traditions and institutions that determine how authority is exercised in a country.

According to the presentation on “Good Governance in NGOs” by Mr.Dana Chengan, this concept brings significant contribution to the promotion of trust in the organization, improvement in the quality of decision making, the ability of weathering a crisis and ensures financial and resources stability. It also helps in the enhancement of service delivery and communication within the organization.

Good governance can be implemented in the system of NGOs by being in line with the 8 principles of the latter; that is, participation, following the rule of law, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, consensus, stragtegic vision and, effectiveness and efficiency.

  • Participation

All members should have a voice in decision-making that represent their interests. Such broad participation is built on freedom of association and speech, as well as capacities to participate constructively.

  • Rule of Law

Legal frameworks should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly the laws on human rights.

  • Transparency and Accountability

Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them. NGOs should promote this concept especially when dissipating information about their decisions, decision making process, in their strategic planning and recruitment processes.

  • Consensus Orientation

Good governance mediates differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interests of the group and, where possible, on policies and procedures.

  • Effectiveness and efficiency

Processes and the institution should produce results that meet needs while making the best use of resources.

  • Strategic Vision

Leaders and the public have a broad and long-term perspective on good governance and human development, along with a sense of what is needed for such development. There is also an understanding of the historical, cultural and social complexities in which that perspective is grounded.

Simply put, the implementation of good governance in any institution, whether it is an international NGO or a national NGO one, can only be possible if these eight principles are adhered to. However, it is worth noting that there are both internal conflicts and external factors that may influence the correct procedures of implementing good governance in any institution.

Humaira Kayamdy: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

NGOs, Non-governmental organisations are made up out of free will without having profit as an aim. It represents the voice of those who cannot be heard, in other words, it represents people who cannot identify ways to speak up their opinions on certain situations and bring about a change.

Good governance is an ideal where a myriad of qualities are needed: transparency, accountability, honesty and much more. Good governance should be a process where the majority of the population is engaged. The NGOs put forward good governance through civil society actions focusing on empowerment and involvement.

How to have more involvement of citizens which ultimately lead to democracy? A concept that may help to achieve democracy is respecting everyone’s opinion by reaching a consensus –consensus is the best solution as it respects each individual’s opinion.

Transparency is the action of sharing information openly. It is the sharing of information to all people who are concerned in various ways and special ways of deliberating information should be made such that illiterate people or handicapped people may have the information. The information put forward should be relevant, accurate and complete. Transparency is also considered pertinent for controlling corruption in public life.It will show to the government how  lack of transparency can lead to inefficiencies .

The NGOs coming with new laws or projects should act in an equitable manner which will make the society trust it more. This can be achieved by setting up of laws and by-laws; allow the society to participate in these discussions and allow them to have their say/opinion. A good society is one which ensures that all its members do not feel excluded, and therefore want to participate. This requires that all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being. Everyone should feel concerned irrespective of his or her position in the social strata.

Accountability has a great role to play in good governance. Accountability has many forms, including accurate reporting of financial data, the publication of annual reports. Who is accountable to whom? This question depends on whether decisions or actions are pronounced internally or externally within an organization. Generally, an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law. Accountability requires both transparency and the rule of law. It is to be noted that answerability comes along with accountability, whereby the citizens are able to demand that the state justifies its actions.

Last but not least, public sector actors should be held accountable. Both the private sector and civil society have a role as “watchdogs” to promote government accountability and as they monitor such issues, the organizations must share information with important stakeholders or the general public and also, engage government counterparts in constructive conversations.

Pooja Bhatoo: Evaluating Five Arguments of the Mauritius Youth Parliament Session 3

George provided an insight about how good governance prevails in the governmental system in his country, Japan. A country and its people needs laws, regulations and acts to influence its citizens’ codes of conduct positively. However, George explained that good governance can be practiced out of good faith and education of the population. People need to acknowledge and abide by the established rules, not because of fear of the system, but by holding on to their beliefs. In this way, showing trust to their own self brings as much trust and confidence into their judicial, governmental systems and civil society. However, as much as this argument is morally sound, it is debatable as to how can one rely only on their good faith so as not to indulge into actions going against the rules of law; since good faith, education and rules & regulations can be argued to be interlinked.

The Honorable Mr. Osman Mohammed, parliamentary member of the Opposition party explained about the practice of good governance in Mauritius. Owing to a well established welfare state and a good judiciary system where laws, acts and regulations have been catered for; Mr. Mohammed showed strong confidence in the Mauritian governmental system by quoting the Mo Ibrahim Index and Freedom Index. He also explained that the Mauritian government adheres to its rules of law supported by a strong judicial system, has in place independent bodies to promote accountability and good governance principles. There is no doubt that the democratic government literature for a fair bit of time emphasized the need to develop and instill independent and robust institutions. Mauritius did very well at that level and created a host of institutions whose independence and autonomy were constitutionally guaranteed. However, it is inevitable to ask how efficient and effective these institutions in discharging their duties and responsibilities are. It is high time that we move away from governance as a number crunching and institutional creating exercise to one which is about real accountability to citizen. After all, state legitimacy and good governance do not depend only on regular elections but a functioning of institutions which articulate well with citizen engagement.

The intervention of Mr. R. Appayah was very stimulating in the sense that it touched the core issues that are actually crippling the Mauritian institutions. Mauritius is far from being the picture perfect example as evidenced by the successive high profile corruption related events as well as the growing patronage and cronyism causing many of the Mauritian brains to mitigate to greener pastures; clearly pointing that the country is currently undergoing bad governance where corruption cases are coming to surface and there is a lack of effective rules of law to remedy the situation. Moreover, the fact that there is a deliberate collusion between politicians, certain public servants and a section of the business world; it is crowding out the population who often has to pay a heavy price for the corruptive practices or in-competences of a small clique. It is of paramount importance to find an answer as to how to change the rhetoric around transparency and accountability into meaningful and tangible actions.