Strengthened oversight capacity within African legislatures

by Ezethu Mandlelize

Clear

Legislatures with their workforce of democratically elected members represent one of the central pillars of democratic process; they play a crucial role in driving and sustaining equitable development within African democratic states. CLEAR-AA’s Parliamentary programme supports this important process through:

  • Building the capacity of parliamentarians to use M&E as part of oversight,
  • Strengthening legislatures’ capacity to monitor their own performance,
  • Developing and sharing best practice on M&E capacity building work within legislatures in the region;
  • Facilitating dialogue between the executive and the legislature around the development of monitoring and evaluation tools.

Recognising that improved M&E technical capacity amongst parliamentarians is a foundation to effective oversight, the programme focuses on building the capacity of parliamentarians, content advisors and researchers to prioritise, select, interpret and make sound judgement using M&E data that is made available to them. The programme has focussed initially during year one on legislatures within South Africa, at both National and Provincial levels and currently responding to the growing demand of M&E in West and East Africa. In years two and three CLEAR-AA plans to extend the programme to National Legislatures within the regional programme.

The programme works with the following clients:

Legislators

Legislators are drawn from a diverse socio/economic background with varying levels of experience and technical capacity in M&E and other specific areas such as health, education, security etc. Exposure to M&E principles together with an ability to navigate the range of performance reporting tools, promises to enhance the quality of oversight that parliamentarians can implement.

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Hon. Masizole Mnqasela

Shadow Minister of Home Affairs taking part in a CLEAR-AA training course for Legislators in Cape Town.

Content advisors and researchers

Play a key role in identifying, packaging and supplying portfolio committees with the ‘evidence’ required for decision making. Political neutrality and a sound understanding of data quality are important to ensure the objective presentation of “the best available evidence” for decision making.

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Members of Select Committee support teams taking part in a CLEAR-AA workshop in Northern Cape.

Parliamentary Strategic Planning Unit

Where they exist within African legislatures, are charged with facilitating and monitoring strategic plans for parliament itself. They play an important role in applying results based approaches to the oversight system.

Our Achievements So Far

  • CLEAR-AA has developed a curriculum for an M&E Module as part of a broader Governance and Leadership Certificate. Delivered to over 200 legislators by CLEAR-AA staff and associates across all nine provinces (as well as the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces), it aims to build the capacity of Legislators to engage with and use M&E information as part of their oversight function.
  • New tools and participatory techniques have been used to deliver tailored training for 75 legislative support staff to portfolio committees during two-day workshops in Cape Town and Northern Cape. Feedback from the training shows a growing interest in M&E skills that can help portfolio support staff to better do their job in supporting legislators.
  • CLEAR-AA has established a network of parliamentarians who are interested in supporting greater use of M&E as part of legislative oversight. The network includes an initial group of 280 South African legislators and a group of 75 content advisors.
  • A section of the CLEAR-AA website is dedicated to the network and work is in progress to integrate it with the emerging African Parliamentarians for Development Evaluation (APNODE) network.
  • Research has been built on emerging knowledge generated through the capacity building part of the programme. Of particular interest is building knowledge around opportunities and constraints to the effectiveness of Portfolio Committees. The research will seek to deepen understanding of these and through use of a specially developed diagnostic tool, untangle the relationships between them.
  • A second area of research will build upon knowledge generated by the CLEAR-AA programme at a continent wide and global level. While there is ample evidence to show that the use of evaluation for oversight finds an enabling environment within liberal democratic systems, CLEAR has uncovered anecdotal evidence of causality that runs in the opposite direction (ie. the use evaluation for oversight can help bolster the foundations of emerging democracies). As yet there is little research into this area; through a series of case studies the parliamentary support programme will attempt to shed more light on this relatively new dynamic.
  • Two dialogue events have been held in Ghana and Uganda to explore the perceived need for M&E in West and east Africa, bringing together parliamentarians, parliamentary support groups, civil society organisations, voluntary organisations promoting evaluation as well as higher educational institutions.

If you would like more information regarding CLEAR-AA’s Parliamentary Support Programme please contact;

Kieron Crawley (Senior technical specialist): kieron.crawley@wits.ac.za

Ezethu Mandlelize (Monitoring & Evaluation officer):  ezethu.mandlelize@wits.ac.za

Linda Khumalo (Junior researcher): linda.khumalo1@wits.ac.za