PAP President Charumbira calls on AU member States to honour the Maputo Declaration - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, October 31, 2022

PAP President Charumbira calls on AU member States to honour the Maputo Declaration

The President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), His Excellency Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira has called on the Member States of the African Union (AU) to honour the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security and increase their annual budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector by at least 10%.

Chief Charumbira made the call while delivering his welcome remarks at the opening ceremony of the First Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Parliament on Monday at the precincts of the parliament at Midrand, South Africa.

He also encouraged Member States to ensure the provision of appropriate incentives in the agricultural sector such as insurance for farmers and building the capacity of Farmers.

The PAP session is being held under the African Union theme of the year, “Building resilience in nutrition on the African continent: Accelerate the human capital, social and economic development.”

H. E. Hon. Charumbira observed that this theme could not be more timely given the tragic circumstances that Africa has found herself in as a continent. “The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the Russia-Ukraine conflict has exposed glaring inadequacies in our skewed economies”. he said.

“It is tragic that up to this day, Africa remains a net importer of food, although it has 60% of the world's uncultivated arable land. What makes even more sad reading is that throughout Africa, 25 countries import more than a third of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia and have naturally experienced a fallout from the conflict. Disruptions to wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine are clearly having major repercussions on food security and nutrition across the continent”

“Additionally, over 8 million children under 5 years are stunted, and 58.7 % of those stunted are in Africa. Only seven (7) member states have stunting rates below 19 percent and 38 African countries have women’s anaemia prevalence rates of more than 30 percent while 20 African states have more than 70 percent prevalence rates for vitamin A supplementation. If this does not force us to revise our policies, if this does not force us to re-examine our investment in agriculture and food self-sufficiency, then nothing else will.”

“It thus remains imperative that, as the Pan African Parliament we must continue to interrogate the continent’s policies and programmes towards enhancing food security and nutrition for the benefit of our citizenry. This is in line with Article 3 (5) of the PAP Protocol which enjoins us to Contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery.”

He called for interrogation of the practice where every year, a theme of the year is adopted by the AU without regard to the accomplishment of the objectives of the theme for the previous year.

Undoubtedly, the themes that the AU proposes every year are guided by the lived realities of our common challenges in Africa and must be treated as such. Sadly, we treat these themes like annual projects with a definitive start and end date which we forget as soon as the next theme is adopted”.

“Today, we are focusing on food security and nutrition and come 2023 we will abandon this theme for a new one regardless of whether we have made meaningful progress in addressing issues of food security and nutrition or not. In 2021, we adopted and ran with the theme "Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want." Yet 2020 and 2021 will go down in history as two of the worst years for the cultural and creative industries due to the ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic which destroyed the livelihoods of some of our arts ambassadors, some permanently.”

“Have we taken time to evaluate the progress we made in using the creative economy as a tool for post-COVID recovery and prosperity? Similarly, we dubbed 2020 the year of “Silencing the Guns” yet violent coups and unconstitutional changes of government have become even more prevalent, with some countries even experiencing coups within coups. Just two days ago, two car bombs were triggered in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing 100 people and injuring over 300 others in a heinous and dispeakable act of terrorism.  What has happened to the declaration to silence the guns?”

“Need I remind you that we declared 2019 “The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.” Ironically, our failure to silence the guns and build resilient economies has led to continued displacement of our people.”

“Esteemed Dignitaries, Africa is riddled by a myriad of challenges that have hindered social, political and economic growth in our countries. These include, but are not limited to peace and security issues including civil wars and unconstitutional change of Governments, food insecurity, poverty, hunger, a growing energy crisis and famine which inadvertently have been caused by the scourge of climate change that has swept across the globe.”

“Natural disasters have also not spared our continent while exogenous factors, through the imposition of sanctions on some of our Member States, have also exacerbated our plight. Sadly, come 2023 we will move on to the next theme and completely forget the preceding year’s theme notwithstanding the progress or lack of it in resolving what is a common challenge to all of us.”

“This brings me to the role of the Pan African Parliament in the continental development agenda. Clearly, the Pan African Parliament has a critical role to play in ensuring that the subjects of themes past and present do not fall off the radar when our people, our Member States and our continent are still struggling with those issues.”

“It is clearly within our remit as the continental oversight organ to continue following up on the effective implementation of the policies and programmes of the Union notwithstanding the fact that a particular theme has elapsed.”

Charumbira noted that Rule 4(1) of the PAP Rules of Procedure as read with Article 3(1) of the PAP Protocol enjoins the PAP to facilitate the implementation of the policies, objectives and programmes of the AU and oversee their effective implementation by the various organs of the Union.

He also reminded the parliamentarians that PAP is expected to promote human and people’s rights, consolidate democratic institutions and the democratic culture, good governance, transparency and the rule of law by all Organs of the Union, Regional Economic Communities and Member States.

“We thus have a responsibility to ensure that actions continue to be taken to silence the guns. The fact-finding and conflict resolution missions that we carried out in the past respond to this obligation. We have an obligation to oversee the implementation of policies and programmes to mitigate against forced displacement of our people.”

“It is incumbent upon us to facilitate and oversee the implementation of all the policies, objectives and programmes of the African Union, including Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area, among others, if we are to play an effective complementary role in the continental governance matrix. The PAP thus has an enormous responsibility within the continental development agenda. Sadly, several factors inhibit our ability to effectively carry out this function.”

Charumbira stated that serious inadequacy of resources had adversely affected the ability of the Parliament to fulfil its mandate.

“Over the past five years, our institutional budget has been reduced by more than 50%. From a budget of USD 22 million, it has been whittled down to USD 11 million with USD 8 million going towards emoluments leaving slightly over USD 2 million for programmes.”

“Within these programmes, there is no allocation for Election Observation Missions (EOM) which is critical to consolidating the democratic culture and participatory democracy. Our citizens have had to depend on EOM Reports from the EU instead of their own elected representatives. As the late great Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, would say, “we are allowing the outsider to mourn louder than the bereaved.” We are abdicating our space and our people’s voice to foreign nations.”

H. E. Chief Charumbire therefore called on the African Union to provide the required budgetary, technical and logistical support to enable the PAP to effectively discharge its mandate as a Continental Parliament.

He promised that PAP sittings will be organized in Member States to enhance visibility and put in place a robust programme, including instituting Open Days to allow the public to interact with PAP Members and be sensitized on the operations of the Parliament.


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