PAP Bureau meets African Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in South Africa - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, October 4, 2019

PAP Bureau meets African Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in South Africa

PAP President Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG

As part of the preparations for the October 2019 Session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the Bureau of the Parliament today Friday held a meeting with African Ambassadors and High Commissioners resident in the Republic of South Africa at the seat of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa. Bureau members in attendance included the President, Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG, and Vice Presidents Hon. Bouras DJAMEL and Hon. Chief Fortune CHARUMBIRA.

In his welcome remarks, PAP President Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG called for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis in South Africa noting that some parliamentarians were apprehensive about attending the upcoming PAP Session scheduled to commence on Monday October 7. He stressed the importance of providing a conducive atmosphere for the parliamentarians to meet and deliberate while in South Africa.

Hon. Dang recalled how his home country of Cameroon was resolving its internal conflict through dialogue and urged other African countries facing similar problems to follow the same path of peaceful resolution instead of resorting to arms struggle in line with the African Union (AU) theme of silencing the guns.

Noting that the recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came into force in June was one of the issues slated for discussion at the PAP Session, Nkodo Dang wondered how that agreement can be implemented in the face of restriction on movement of Africans within the continent.

Enumerating some of the problems facing PAP which he sought the assistance of the diplomats, Dang stated that budget cuts especially with respect to the removal of allowances paid to members of the Parliament and the health insurance of parliamentarians while in South Africa “was demoralizing” noting that the 2019 PAP Budget proposed a small allowance of $700 per parliamentarian for the duration of the session but regretted that it was rejected by the AU.

Although the Protocol Establishing the Pan African Parliament intended for the allowances of parliamentarians to be taken care of by the respective member states, Dang noted that the rejected allowance was necessary since parliamentarians lose some financial benefits back home as a result of their absence to attend to PAP sessions. The parliamentarians also incur expenses while in South Africa which their home parliaments do not take into consideration in considering their expenses.

On renewal of the Host Country Agreement (HCA) with South Africa, Hon. Dang stated that the issue had lingered since 2009 when the initial agreement was expired, regretting that PAP was still operating from a temporary site after fifteen (15) years in spite of the promises by the South African Government on the basis of which the Assembly of Heads of State of State and Government of the AU gave South Africa the right to host PAP over Egypt and Libya back in 2004. Dang also stated that the official residence of the PAP President was yet to be constructed resulting in his having to stay in hotels during sessions thereby having to move out of the hotel room with his things at the end of session instead of a permanent official residence.

Dang regretted that PAP was still using furniture and equipment installed fifteen years ago which had become outdated and dilapidated.

He decried the high rate of turnover of parliamentarians stating that as many of seventy new parliamentarians are sworn in each session which adversely affects institutional memory. He condemned a situation where experienced PAP parliamentarians who win re-election into their home parliaments are denied the opportunity to return to PAP due local political considerations.

Concluding, Dang sought the assistance of the diplomats to bring these issues to attention of their respective Heads of States and also called for their cooperation in the effort to ensure the ratification of Revised PAP Protocol which was adopted by the AU Assembly in 2014 in Malabo (Malabo Protocol) and ratified by twelve (12) member states but which required twenty eight (28) ratifications to come into force.

In his address, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in South Africa, H. E. M. Bene Lofongo M’POKO of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) thanked the PAP President for convening the meetings with Ambassadors regularly and called for the political will by African leaders to embark on the industrial development of the continent, stressing the need for all “to work together to make Africa a viable political entity”. He commended the coming into force of the AfCFTA and pledged to work to assist PAP in ensuring the resolution of the outstanding issues concerning the Host Country Agreement and apologized for the delay in playing that role.

On the recent violence in South Africa, Ambassador M’POKO stressed the need to heal the wounds from the culture of violence resulting from the years of apartheid and called on the political leaders to find a lasting solution to this culture of violence in South Africa.

He commended the Government of South Africa for showing the political will to confront the issue and called for the assistance and understanding of other African countries in dealing with the problem.

On the safety of parliamentarians arriving for the session, Ambassador M’POKO advised the ambassadors to notify the diplomatic corps of the arrival of their country delegation so that security could be arranged from the airport.
According to M’POKO, “Just because a friendly nation is experiencing difficulty should not warrant abandoning them” and called for an understanding of the situation.

The diplomats requested to be provided with copies of the Host Country Agreement with the Annexure stating the areas that are yet to be implemented for their intervention and then resolved to constitute a Sub Committee of Ambassadors to look into the issue.    

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