PAP 20th Anniversary: Dr. Gertrude Mongella calls for the strengthening of the Pan-African Parliament - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

PAP 20th Anniversary: Dr. Gertrude Mongella calls for the strengthening of the Pan-African Parliament

A former President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Dr. Gertrude Mongella has appealed to the African Union (AU) and its Heads of State to provide sufficient support—human, technical, and financial—to enable the PAP to carry out its mandate effectively stressing that the PAP should not be treated as a "stepchild" of the African Union but as an integral organ deserving of care and nurturing. She called for a stronger Pan-African Parliament and urged the members of the PAP to revive their commitment to the slogan "ONE AFRICA ONE VOICE" and to develop a robust communication mechanism with the Union.

Dr. Mongella who was the inaugural President of PAP from inception in 2004 to 2009, made the call on Monday while delivering historic address as guest of honour at the event marking the 20th anniversary of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Her poignant speech resonated deeply with the themes of unity, progress, and the enduring struggle for a prosperous and peaceful Africa, reflecting on the institution’s journey and set a vision for its future.

Dr. Mongella began by extending heartfelt thanks to the current President of the Pan-African Parliament, H.E. Chief Charumbira, the Bureau Members, and the host country, South Africa and acknowledged the warm reception and the steadfast support that has characterized the relationship between the PAP and its host nation.

Reflecting on the PAP’s two-decade-long journey, Dr. Mongella posed a critical question: "From when we started to today, where are we?" This question aimed to provoke a self-assessment of the Parliament’s adherence to its founding slogan, "ONE AFRICA ONE VOICE." She emphasized the need for introspection to ensure that the PAP remains relevant and effective in its mission and called for the PAP to mature and become more independent in promoting the African Union’s objectives, as stipulated in Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

Dr. Mongella, whose speech was centered on the notion of a united African voice, questioned whether the PAP’s voice is being heard across the continent’s parliaments and in the international arena. The answer to this question, she opined, would determine whether the PAP is moving in the right direction or losing its relevance. She stressed the importance of the PAP’s role in elevating the livelihoods of Africans, advocating for stronger synergy between national, regional, and continental parliaments.

She highlighted the PAP’s crucial role in conflict resolution, peace, and security and reminisced about the close collaboration between the PAP and various Regional Economic Communities, such as SADC, EAC, and ECOWAS, and then reiterated the importance of the concept "African solutions for African problems," emphasizing that peace and stability are prerequisites for a prosperous Africa. The ongoing conflicts and political tensions in member states, especially those arising from elections, were highlighted as areas of grave concern that require urgent attention from the PAP.

Dr. Mongella’s speech also touched on the core values of democracy and human rights emphasizing the PAP’s role in promoting equality and non-discrimination, reflecting on Africa’s history of struggle against slavery, colonization, and for political and economic independence. She passionately advocated for gender equality, stressing that both men and women have equal rights to the resources of the planet and should not be seen as invitees on it.

"Despite all these years I’m delighted to see that can still come together to reflect on the journey. Let us continue on our mandate to ensure that our Africans are living, trading and moving in peaceful environment” said Dr. Mongella.

The Clerk of the Parliament, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo in her welcome address, urged the attendees to critically reflect on the successes achieved, the challenges while also reflecting on the way forward.

In his goodwill message, Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in South Africa, Ambassador Andre Nzapayeke, observed that PAP was a creation of the member states of the African Union and established as a symbol of unity among African nations. He reminded African governments and people of their obligation towards ensuring the success of PAP stressing that after two decades, the time has come to recognize the role of PAP towards achieving the vision of the “Africa we want”.

In his presentation on the evolution of the Pan-African Parliament, H. E. Chief Fortune Charumbira  recalled that PAP established in 2004, 41 years after the formation of the OAU (1963) now AU. He stated that the Founding Fathers realized that without a Parliament, the African Union was a Union of Member States not a Union of Citizens of Africa. “A continental Parliament was the missing link in the Continental Governance Architecture that connects Member States to the people and keeps them attuned to the people’s needs. In an ideal governance framework, a Parliament is the supreme institution on the demand side of accountability. A Parliament, comprising the people’s elected representatives, is the foremost institution in representing the hopes, ideals and aspirations of the people”.

 Chief Charumbira regretted the lack of recognition of MPs in the AU architecture especially in their definition of “elected officials” deliberately coined to exclude MPs and the centralization of functions by the AUC which has resulted in the ack of appreciation of the role of a continental Parliament.

He disclosed that the inaugural session of the PAP which lasted three days was held on 18 March 2004 and was attended by two hundred and two (202) legislators from 41 countries.

On the limitations of PAP, Chief Charumbira regretted that legislative powers was still not granted even though they are envisaged in the Protocol and the lack of  respect for the PAP’s mandate (Budgetary Oversight, Election Observation Missions  Reports, Ratification of AU Instruments), insufficient Resources, lack of incentives for Bureau Members and MPs, Inadequate staff complements.

Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba joined virtually to celebrate the Pan-African Parliament's 20th anniversary. He shared a presentation titled "Reflecting on the Journey and Charting the Path Forward” and retraced the origins of the African Union and the ideals of the Pan-African Parliament.

H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), who also joined virtually, reiterated that the Pan-African Parliament is well-positioned to raise awareness of Africans on the benefits of the AFCFTA.

In his message of solidarity, Head of the African Union ECOSOCC Secretariat, Mr. William Carew, congratulated the Members of Parliament on their successful journey and contribution in “building the Africa we want.” He also recalled the success of the collaboration between the Pan-African Parliament and ECOSOCC and assured them of ECOSOCC's commitment to strengthening the working relationship together 


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