MMP alone cannot resurrect a failing State

Dr Rajen Prasad

My recent work for the Commonwealth was in the Kingdom of Lesotho, one of the least developed countries in Africa.

It continues as a failing state despite having adopted New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) Parliamentary System, and despite having received the best evidence- based advice possible from the Commonwealth as well as other international agencies.

Its politicians and public servants have seized on the ability of MMP to enable Parliament to look like a slice of the general population but then have used the power gained to push personal and sectoral interests.

The Lesotho Example

Meanwhile, the country’s economy implodes and its people continue to suffer as a member of the club of least developed countries in the world.

When we had completed our work in Lesotho, produced all the documents, written the coalition agreements and received acknowledgment for our work, we left it to the elected representatives, the public service and civil society to “get on with the work” of governing the country and addressing the poverty, development and economic issues that needed addressing.

They have just completed their third elections in about five years.

So, in the critical literature at least, good governance is being poorly conceptualised but its importance for achieving change has also been understood.

The academic arguments regarding the concept of good governance will continue in our universities and amongst our researchers.

That is a good thing.

Eight Elements

Speaking at the Seventh Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture on Monday, August 7, 2017, Retired Controller and Auditor General Lyn Provost said that the concept of good governance comes alive through ‘Eight Elements.’ She explained each of them with examples that can provide a readily accessible blue print against which we can judge ourselves, as well as our organisations and institutions.

However, any one of these eight elements on its own would be inadequate as a blue print for good governance.  As Ms Provost explained, each element needs careful thinking and planning.  There is no option to leave some of them out of consideration.

Thus, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in that sense.

All elements being considered is what makes the advantages of good governance to be realised is Provost’s thesis.

Dr Rajen Prasad is a retired Member of Parliament (2008-2014) on Labour List. The above is a small part of his speech at the Seventh Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand held on August 7, 2017. For full text, please visit www.indiannewslink.co.nz; www.inliba.co.nz; www.inlisa.com

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