Every voice counts: listen to Hon. Dora Siliya’s.
“We must all be the change we want to see in the world… we
must take a step back and ask ‘What are we doing in our homes?’”
We asked Hon. Dora Siliya how citizens can participate in the APRM.
“I believe that if a government is a government of the people for the people by the people then the people must take responsibility,” the Minister told us. “The people in government are citizens of the country who have families and friends and [other] people who are not in government but elect the government and elect the political leadership to give direction on agreed development agenda for the nation.”
Hon. Siliya defines politics as the democratic process of a government for the people by the people. And, she added, “politics at the end of the day is about distribution and re-distribution of wealth, of jobs and of opportunities. It involves each one of us. Nobody should be sitting and pointing at somebody.”
The Minister believes we all have a role to play. While we elect a group of people to provide the political leadership, at the end of the day it is our government because we ourselves are the government and we ourselves attach our support to a particular agenda, and, in a multi-party political dispensation to a particular party. In essence, “we say we like your development agenda so we’ll entrust you to run our affairs but at the same time we’ll be keeping an eye on you; if you do well we’ll vote you back after five years, if you don’t do well we’ll take you out of government.”
“I believe that that clearly gives every citizen that responsibility to be aware of what is going on. We should see where we can change things.” Hon. Siliya quoted Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”, concluding that the people in various positions of decision-making, not just in political offices but in other departments of government, irrespective of whether it’s at PS level, director, or other quasi-government institutions, everyone working there and those of us who provide the checks and balances, must all take an interest and ensure that things are progressing as they should. She added: “instead of complaining, let us find solutions. Where we can change things, let us have a culture of changing things, where we can correct things, let us have a culture of correcting things. Where things are going well, let us encourage and promote the things that are going well.”
Hon. Dora Siliya expanded further on this topic, stating that we should not dwell on things that are going badly without correcting them. And where things are going well, we should encourage them because the nation also needs positive messages so that the young people can continue with the work being done today. For her, this is what is important. “We must all be the change we want to see in the world, in our faith, from our homes, and, especially in our homes. For me, one of the things about the Peer Review Mechanism is that while it provides means and ways for various African governments to review their performances on issues of governance, the biggest issue of governance is first of all in our homes, because if there’s no good governance in our homes, there’ll be no good governance in our nation.”
“I think that we must go back to the micro-level and look at the African home: what kind of people are we producing from our homes?” These will become the workers of tomorrow, the leaders of tomorrow, and the business people of tomorrow. “If we focus on the values we want in Africa and in our own country in our homes, it may sort out the societal problems,” the Minister explained. “Right now we have a situation where a lot of youths get confused because in the home and from what they see generally in society they’re not getting the right message. We can say ‘the government…’, but who is the government?”
According to Hon. Siliya, government is the people, for the people, by the people, and so each one of us must take responsibility and make sure that there is good governance in our homes. Governance which will produce children with good values, children who will tomorrow become the good presidents, the good ministers, the good journalists, the good church elders, the good teachers, and the good students.
The Minister concluded by challenging us all: “just focusing on the apex and saying: ‘peer review means officials must not be corrupt, officials must do their work…’ is not enough in itself. These traits begin from people’s homes. That is where we must address these matters. Unless we can focus on making sure that there’s decency in our homes, values in our homes, how do we permeate these into society? So while we’re trying to assess governments in Africa, I think we must take a step back and ask ‘what are we doing in our homes?’”