Status of Programmes to Educate the Civil Society on the African Union and Nepad by the Department of Foreign Affairs

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO 15

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 21 OF 18 OCTOBER 2004

MRS SE MABE TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

Whether her department has designed or intends designing any programmes, to educate civil society on, and to deepen their understanding of, the African Union and Nepad; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the relevant details and (b) what role is envisaged for provinces in this regard?
C134E

REPLY:

When the African Union was launched, one of the first actions of the Department of Foreign Affairs was to design an Outreach Programme which was implemented in conjunction with the Africa Institute (AISA). The Outreach Programme was designed to popularise the African Union and NEPAD and several Workshops were held in conjunction with different organs of civil society in order to introduce the AU and NEPAD to them. In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs, in all its interactions with other Departments, as well as through its interaction with Provinces (Workshops conducted by the Protocol Section of the Department for Provinces to advise Provinces on international contact) popularises the African Union as an institution, and NEPAD as the programme of the AU. In addition, it seeks to engage national departments on how they and Provinces may participate in these processes.

Cabinet agreed that the NEPAD requires mass support and participation. It therefore decided that the Steering Committee, Secretariat and the political parties represented in the government should have joint responsibility to popularise the NEPAD.

In essence, the popularisation of the African Union and NEPAD, as well as our participation in these structures, is the responsibility of the whole of government, including parliament as well as civil society.

Over the last three years, South Africa has been an enthusiastic participant in the NEPAD process, but it is recognised that more should be done to ensure that South Africa itself engages more effectively with the NEPAD process to realise concrete opportunities for the peoples of South Africa and the SADC region. A Workshop of Directors-General was held on 30 April 2004 to address the key issues relating to strengthening South Africa's engagement in the NEPAD process. The Workshop sought to identify appropriate national structures to champion, co-ordinate, implement and popularise NEPAD in SA so as to ensure SA's effective engagement in the NEPAD process. As a result of this process, a National Strategy for NEPAD is being prepared.

Regarding participation and popularisation in the African Union, developments regarding the "people's organs" of the AU, namely the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), are also relevant. Honourable Members will know that the PAP Protocol has been ratified and has entered into force. South Africa has since been accorded the honour of hosting the Pan-African Parliament, and the first sitting of PAP, that took place in South Africa, has been concluded. The Deputy Chairperson of this House, the Honourable MJ Mahlangu represents our country in the continent's parliament.

ECOSOCC, as a meeting of civil society from across the continent, has been closely followed and championed by the South African government, due to its importance in mobilising civil society and giving civil society more than a nominal voice in Continental affairs. ECOSOCC's statutes were adopted by the AU Summit in July 2004 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which means that it is now a functional structure of the AU.

The SA Chapter of ECOSOC was launched with eight civil society organisations elected as members of a Secretariat from the sectors: women; youth; religious groups; organised labour; non-governmental organisations; civics; cultural groups, and people with disabilities. Representatives for the remaining four representative sectors, namely business; media; professionals, and the aged, are being finalised. The process of finalising Rules of Procedure and formally launching ECOSOCC will now commence. Each AU member state needs to elect three representatives to the continental body. Attention by South Africa will need to be paid to selection of these representatives.

It should also be noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs has consistently engaged the media by means of press releases and press conferences prior to all AU meetings and at the conclusion of these meetings. I myself have given detailed briefings on the Pan-African Parliament to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly and to the media in order to involve South African society in these historical events which will have such a profound impact on the future of the African continent.

END





 

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