Liberal International member parties took bold steps to endorse a programme for better governance in the twenty-first century as LI’s 199th Executive Committee meeting convened in Johannesburg, South Africa between 27-29 October.
Overseen by LI vice-president Astrid Thors, and the executive mayor of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay, Athol Trollip, the Declaration sets out a vision for Liberals around the world – in government or opposition – to navigate the challenges of governing in the twenty-first century. Drawing inspiration from LI’s Andorra Manifesto, adopted in May 2017, and with an eye towards current threats to democracy the future tendencies, the Declaration notes that “better governance means… the needs of future generations are taken on board, that sustainable development is prioritised, and that degradation of the ecosystems is avoided.” The Johannesburg Declaration sets out principles around democracy, human rights, the rules of law, public administration and more. A full text is available via the LI website here.
The DA is a party that stands for renewal, opportunity, and hope remarked the LI president Dr Juli Minoves, as he opened the 199th ExCom alongside South Africa’s liberal leader, Mmusi Maimane MP. Setting out the challenge to improve governance in South Africa by ousting the ruling ANC in the 2019 national elections, Mr Maimane explained: “never before have we faced so many opportunities but so many challenges.”
The Executive Committee programme delivered interactive debates with senior politicians as well as campaigning best-practice sharing from one of Africa’s most successful political parties. Held in cooperation with the Democratic Alliance (DA – LI full member) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Africa (FNF – LI cooperating organisation), the 199th ExCom saw interactive panel debates on good governance and social equality and sustainable development with senior political figures as well as civil society experts. Leader of the Reform Party (LI full member – Estonia) former minister of social affairs, Hanno Pevkur MP, told ExCom delegates that in improving social equality “the most important thing is education but without a free market you cannot reduce inequality.” With a view towards the environmental impact of governing, LI deputy-president and UN climate change champion, Hakima el Haite, noted: “Good governance is a means to achieve sustainable development.”
more equality, an active citizenship, and get rid of corrupt officials
The theme debate ‘Better Governance: Liberal answers for twenty-first century challenges’ delivered some hard-hitting, practical advice for ExCom delegates from the DA’s recently-elected mayors, summed up by the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba: If you want better governments in any context strive for “more equality, an active citizenship, and get[ting] rid of corrupt officials” he insisted. Mayor Mashaba has already recovered millions of Rand by detoxifying the administration of the former ANC-run city.
The ExCom also heard membership applications from Union for the Republic and Democracy – Mali and Rassemblement Pour la Mauritanie – Mauritania, who will be put before the 62nd Congress in 2018. In addition to the Johannesburg Declaration, policy resolutions were also adopted on a number of important and timely issues, from the threatened outlawing of the liberal opposition in Cambodia to the fate of the Rohingya people in Burma/Myanmar. The adopted resolutions can be found here.
The LI human rights committee also elected a new cadre of champions to fight for liberal fundamental human rights around the world. The new committee is formed of 21 members from 17 countries and is chaired for final term by Mr. Markus Löning.
While the LI ExCom confirmed Senator Leila De Lima of the Philippines as Liberal International’s 2017 Prize for Freedom laureate, Liberals also came together in the middle of the ExCom to celebrate the presentation of the FNF Freedom Prize to Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichelema, who is recently released from prison having been arrested in April 2017 on politically-motivated charges.