PAP President gives account of Bureau’s stewardship - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, August 22, 2022

PAP President gives account of Bureau’s stewardship

President of the Pan-African Parliament, H. E. Chief Fortune Charumbira has outlined some of the actions that have been undertaken by the Bureau since assuming office in an effort to achieve their manifest desire to revive, renew, reposition and reinvigorate the Parliament.

This formed part of the keynote address presented by Chief Charumbira at a three-day workshop with the theme “Reviving, Renewing, Repositioning and Reinvigorating the Pan-African Parliament” at the seat of the parliament in Midrand, South Africa on Monday.

He reported that the first step taken by the Bureau was to ensure that the principle of rotational leadership is cascaded throughout all the structures of the Pan African Parliament.

“To that extent, for the first time in the history of our institution, each Region now chairs at least two Committees, deputises in at least two Committees and has at least two rapporteurs. In so doing, the Bureau has underlined its commitment to the abiding values of fairness, equity and justice within the Pan African Parliament by ensuring that no Region exercises undue dominance over the others. Rest assured that your Bureau intends to follow the same procedure in the recruitment of staff to vacant positions in order to guarantee that the cosmopolitan nature of our continent is reflected even in the staff complement at the institution”.

“It is my hope that when the advertisements for vacant posts are published, Honourable Members will encourage prospective employees from their various countries to apply for these positions”.

Noting that one of the founding principles of the Parliament is to facilitate cooperation between Regional Economic Communities in Africa and their Parliamentary fora, Chief Charumbira undertook his first official speaking engagement as President of the Pan African Parliament at the 51st Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum in Lilongwe, Malawi on 7th June, 2022. The mission was in furtherance of the Bureau’s commitment to “strengthening regional parliamentary cooperation and relationships. This was also in recognition of the fact that collaborative and mutual engagements of PAP and regional bodies such as SADC PF embody the best hope for regional integration which is integral to the actualization of the foundational objectives of PAP”.

Following that event, the Bureau embarked on a hugely successful mission to re-engage the Executive Council of the African Union and the African Union Commission (AUC) at the African Union 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting at the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Lusaka, Zambia.

“At that meeting, the AUC Chairperson, His Excellency, Mr. Musa Faki Mahamat, presented the Report on the PAP Elections and subsequently introduced the Bureau to the Executive Council. I must thank the Executive Council for the rousing reception and their commitment to support the Bureau in the discharge of its mandate”.

“This unanimous support was evident when we presented the challenges facing the PAP, particularly the budgetary constraints occasioned by austerity measures which had been instituted during the PAP’s prolonged enforced hiatus. The Executive Council and AU Commissioners roundly supported our request for a Supplementary Budget to support Committee activities, fact-finding missions, Bureau activities and plenary sessions, among others. In that regard, we submitted a Supplementary Budget of slightly over USD 5 million to allow our full return to operational functionality. I am pleased to report that the request for a supplementary budget has since been approved with the proviso that it should not exceed 15% of the original budget in compliance with the Financial Rules. Accordingly, we have reduced our Supplementary Budget request from USD 5 million, which is 41% of the original budget, to USD 1.7 million and we anticipate that this will be approved. Your Bureau will continue to engage the Union to ensure that the institution is adequately funded to enable the PAP to effectively carry out its mandate”.   

“It is gratifying to note that there is a rekindled spirit and interest to embrace PAP’s agenda with an overwhelming expression of support for PAP’s institutional programmes. Since then, there has been an unprecedented number of Ambassadors and national Parliaments expressing support for the Bureau, requesting courtesy calls and/or inviting the Bureau and the PAP to participate in various parliamentary activities. Your Bureau will ride on this newfound support to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations in pursuit of continental integration and pluralistic democracy”.

H. E. Chief Charumbira reported that he also participated in a welcome cocktail jointly hosted by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the University of Pretoria to officially welcome the CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Dr. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, and the PAP Bureau to the AU family.

“Honourable Members will recall that the PAP and AUDA-NEPAD are two institutions that were established to concretize the commitment to make the African Union a people-centered organization. With AUDA-NEPAD being the resource mobilisation arm, the PAP shall ensure that the citizens are given a platform to actively participate in the conceptualization of the policies aimed at achieving the Africa We Want. The cocktail provided a platform for discussions on strengthening and expanding the ongoing programmes with African Union Member States, Development Partners and our intellectuals in the various institutions of higher learning”.

In furtherance of the Bureau’s commitment to mainstream gender issues and ensure that affirmative guidelines on gender equity and inclusiveness are prioritized, the Pan-African Parliament on 31st July 2022 celebrated the Pan-African Women’s Day, led by the third Vice President, Hon. Lucia Maria Mendes Goncalves dos Passos, at the National Assembly of Cabo Verde.

At this engagement which brought together parliamentarians, government officials, civil society organisations, members of the diplomatic corps and immigrant communities, Hon. Lucia Maria dos Passos reiterated that the focus of the PAP will be to ensure that financial inclusion of women is prioritized and regarded as a pathway to sustainable development. The Bureau threw down the gauntlet to the Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability to ensure that this aspiration is realised for the greater good of all disenfranchised and disadvantaged women on the continent.

Chief Charumbira noted that in repositioning the PAP within the African Union (AU) architecture, the Bureau took initiatives towards forging lasting relationship with Organs and agencies of the African Union. Along the sidelines of the Executive Council Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, and again on the 17th August 2022, the Bureau met with the AU Department of Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, in a bid to resolve some of the challenges that limit the Parliament’s ability to achieve the Union’s objectives of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa and our mandate as representatives of the people. This engagement has enabled the Bureau to address issues around the framework for collaboration, including but not limited to, election observation missions (EOMs), Fact finding missions, the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and the role of the PAP in the ratification of AU Legal Instruments.

“As a result of these engagements, I am pleased to report to you that PAP Parliamentarians have now been re-engaged in Election Observer Missions. To that end, our MPs participated in the EOM to Kenya and are currently among the team of observers to the elections in Angola. We have also agreed on the development of a work plan and roadmap for the implementation of collaborative initiatives and transversal activities. We look forward to mutually beneficial co-operation with all AU Organs into the future”.

“As part of the image building, engagement and re-engagement process, we will also be convening a Strategic Retreat with the PRC hopefully before the end of September 2022. Hon. Members will agree with me that over the years the PAP’s relationship with the AU has significantly deteriorated to a point where serious questions and concerns were raised relating to the image of PAP, the lack of respect for AU decisions, the failure to adhere to institutional regulations, and what they perceived as the absence of viable results to underscore the PAP’s legislative mandate”.

“To some, the PAP resembled the biblical prodigal son intent on stubbornly doing its own thing outside the wider AU family. Fortunately, the prodigal son is back home and has clearly been welcomed with open arms by the AU family. The PAP-PRC Retreat will thus provide a platform for the PAP to repair its battered image and outline the challenges it has been facing in fulfilling its mandate and, hopefully, elicit the full support of the PRC in resolving these challenges” he concluded.

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