Entrenching decentralisation in Africa: A review of the African Charter on the values and principles of decentralisation, local governance and local development
Chigwata, Tinashe Calton
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The African Union (AU) adopted the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development (African Charter on Decentralisation) in 2014. The Charter seeks to promote decentralisation as a vehicle for improving the livelihood of people on the African continent. It is the ﬁrst to provide a decentralisation framework or model framework for local government for the African continent. Like most international instruments, member states of the AU will only be legally bound by the Charter once they have ratiﬁed it. Most Member States of the AU have not ratiﬁed the Charter due to varying reasons, including, the fact that the ratiﬁcation process in many countries is often cumbersome. Non-ratiﬁcation could also be due to the fact that there is not yet a clear understanding of the meaning and signiﬁcance of the decentralisation framework which the Charter provides. Thus, the actual impact of the Charter on changing the poor state of local government on the African continent upon coming into operation is as yet unknown. This problem is inﬂated by the fact that there is present no scholarly commentary on the Charter, given that it is relatively new. This article provides a critical analysis of the Charter, looking at its strengths and weakness, against the background of the international literature on decentralisation and ‘best’ practices on local government.