Peace and democracy in the continent can be brought about by Africa itself, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Thursday.
Mbeki arrived at the meeting venue in Montecasino, Johannesburg a few minutes earlier to a hero's welcome that included praise-singing, applause and delegates taking pictures of him from their cellphones.
"The responsibility to transform our continent, to make it democratic and peaceful and to rid it of poverty and underdevelopment rests in our hands," Mbeki told a high-level gathering in Fourways.
He said the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), an instrument for African governments to review each other, which was set up to boost the New Partnership for Africa's Development, was a way for Africa to bring about its own prosperity. It "must continue to discharge its function to ensure that it becomes the instrument to drive this on the continent".
Mbeki was one of the founding fathers of the APRM in 2003, which was established two years after Nepad was founded.
"We said let's set up this peer review mechanism. The idea was that we must assess ourselves, and hence the benchmarks to say we must then assess each of our countries according to each of these benchmarks," he said.
The APRM wasn't a ratings agency, rather a way for governments to help and support each other if they had difficulties in terms of governance. Ghana, for instance, had trouble with corruption but had no money to establish an office of the auditor-general. Fellow African governments agreed to help Ghana to solve this problem.
The APRM has recently experienced a revival after almost grinding to a halt in the past few years. The African Union in January incorporated it as an agency to monitor the work governments of its member states do.
It declared that March 9, the APRM's birthday, should be declared APRM day.