Pan-African Parliament is focused on delivering to an expectant continent – Charumbira - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, June 24, 2024

Pan-African Parliament is focused on delivering to an expectant continent – Charumbira

The President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), H.E. Chief Fortune Charumbira has sounded it loud and clear that PAP is focused on delivering on its mandate to an expectant continent, emphasizing that its objectives are clearly spelt out in Article 3 of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Protocol).

Chief Charumbira stated this on Monday while delivering his opening remarks during the opening ceremony of the Third Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament which took place at the precincts of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

He promised that “with the PAP now back to full operational functionality, rest assured that the Bureau is back and working diligently to ensure that we refocus the institution on achieving its mandate, reconnect with sister AU Organs, other stakeholders and the citizens of Africa, and, in so doing, rebrand and repair the soiled image of the Pan African Parliament.”

“Although challenges remain but we remain firmly focused on driving the achievement of meaningful results in fulfilling the PAP’s mandate.”

“This is what we are called to do, Hon. Members. This is what we should focus on delivering to an expectant continent. I, therefore, implore all of us to steer clear of regional, linguistic or leadership politics which can only serve to divide us. We must be guided by principle, our collective conscience and the love of the motherland in everything we do if we are to make this continental Parliament effective in fulfilling the functions stated above. Our operative mantra, as espoused by the African Union should be “Think Africa Above All.” With this mentality, we can start talking and living our motto, “One Africa, One Voice.”

“As we open our plenary session with Committee Sittings coming first on the agenda it is important that Hon. Members fully comprehend the breadth of the challenges that your Bureau is facing in trying to lobby for adequate resources for PAP which may need Committees to refocus and do things differently.”

The PAP President shared his experience during a retreat in Addis Ababa Retreat before the Pre-Budget Retreat from 22nd April to 1st May, 2024, trying to canvas for an increased budget allocation for both 2024 and 2025. “We were shocked at the issues that the F15 in particular is now raising more than 20 years after the establishment of the Pan African Parliament by the Founding Fathers.”

“One of the questions we keep being asked is, WHAT DOES THE PAP DO? Surely, 20 years after the establishment of PAP premised on a Protocol adopted by Heads of State in Sirte, Libya, and ratified by Member States in 2004 we cannot be fielding such questions. The PAP’s functions are clear in the Protocol notwithstanding attempts to undermine these functions. But the question behind that question is, WHAT IMPACT HAS THE PAP MADE OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS?”

“Of course, it is shocking to say the least that we are getting such questions more than 20 years into our existence but what it tells us is that we should start focusing on results instead of activities. As Committees begin their meetings tomorrow, you should start asking yourselves what will be the likely output, outcome and possible impact of what you are doing? You should start asking yourselves whether what you are doing is linked to the mandate of the Pan African Parliament. You should also start interrogating whether what you are doing contributes to the seven (7) Moonshots/ Strategic Focus Areas identified by the African Union”. He identified those areas as:

v  Moonshot 1: Every AU Member State attains at least middle- income status

v  Moonshot 2: Africa is more integrated and connected

v  Moonshot 3: Public institutions are more responsive

v  Moonshot 4: Africa resolves conflicts amicably

v  Moonshot 5: African values are explicit and promoted

v  Moonshot 6: Africa's citizens are more empowered and more productive

v  Moonshot 7: Africa is a strong and influential global player.

“Sadly, even in the AU Wide Strategy, the mandate of PAP has been restricted to focus only on Moonshot 2 “Africa is more integrated and connected.” We were told that the PAP only finds expression in that one Moonshot, but we respectfully beg to differ. In our considered opinion, the continental Parliament fits seamlessly into all the 7 Moonshots and cannot be confined to just Moonshot 2. How can Africa attain middle income status without a conducive policy and legislative environment that spurs economic growth?”

“How can Africa be more integrated and connected without removing the tariff barriers that inhibit intra-Africa trade? How can public institutions be more responsive if Parliament does not hold them accountable? These are just a few pointers that the Union can only ignore the role of the continental Parliament in all the 7 Moonshots at its own peril. We, therefore, implore our Committees in planning for their activities to be mindful of these 7 Moonshots and to align their outputs to them.”

Chief Charumbira disclosed that one of the reasons advanced at the Pre-Budget retreat for denying the Parliament the resources to do her work was that “we are duplicating the functions of other Organs. When we said we promote peace, security and stability on the continent in line with Article 3(5) of the PAP Protocol, we were told that that function belongs to the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Similarly, when we insisted that we develop Model Laws we were told that it is outside our remit but belongs to Commission on International Law.”

“Lest we forget, in every Parliament all over the world, Parliamentary Committees mirror government ministries and conduct oversight on the Ministries they shadow. The same applies to the Pan African Parliament. There is, therefore, no duplication of functions as the PAP does not implement policies and programmes like Executive Organs but oversees the effective implementation of the same within the universal doctrine of separation of powers. AU Organs cannot and must not be the judge, jury and executioner without any checks and balances in the continental governance system. That is precisely one of the reasons why the Parliament was established.”

He also disclosed that PAP have also been accused of doing their own thing far removed from the AU priorities. “It is baffling because in our statutory meetings we have always been guided by the AU Theme of the Year. That is why this session is predicated on : “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.”

“I believe this theme is appropriate and relevant now more than ever for the entire Union. Justifiably, the first three decades of the African Union were focused on the fight against colonialism. Africa is indeed politically “independent,” but I believe we still need to decolonize our education systems and focus on heritage - based education that supports the economic development of Africa.”

Chief Charumbira commended the African Union for coming up with this timely theme and encouraged all of the parliamentarians to fully apply themselves in debating this topic.

“We have also made sure that this plenary session includes presentations and discussions on various issues relevant to Africa such as continental integration, through the African Continental Free Trade Area, peace and security issues, climate change and other issues common and relevant to the continent.”

Those in attendance at the opening session included the President of the Arab Parliament, His Excellency, Adel Bin Abdul Rahman Al Asoomi who was the guest of honour; The Vice Presidents of the Pan African Parliament, Hon. Dr. Ashebir Gayo; Hon. Lucia Dos Passos and Hon. Djidda Mamar Mahamat; Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu.

Others are the Vice President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, Hon. Justice Modibo SACKO (who joined virtually); the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Hon. Remy Ngoy Lumbu (who also joined virtually); the European Union Ambassador to the African Union, H.E. Ambassador Javier Nino Perez, (who also joined virtually); the CEO of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, Her Excellency, Ambassador Marie-Antoinette Rose Quatre; the Dean of African Ambassadors in South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Andre Nzapayeke and members of the Diplomatic Corps; Hon. Members of the Pan African Parliament; and the Clerk of the Pan African Parliament, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo.


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