Address at The Meeting of African Parliaments on The Pan African Parliament
Cape Town, Western Cape Monday, 30 June 2003

The Chairperson of the Steering Committee, Dr Frene Ginwala,
Honourable Members of Parliament from the Southern African Development Community,
Honourable Members of African Parliaments

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to attend this meeting of Presiding Officers and Members of Parliament from parliaments of the African Union.

We are delighted to have this meeting in our country.

Colleagues, the dream of a better organised and united Africa is a dream that Africans have dared to dream for decades. It is also this vision that had inspired the formation of the Organisation for African Unity, and last year the African Union.

I think we all agree that one of the most important instruments of the AU is contained in the Protocol calling for the establishment of a Pan- African Parliament.

This is so because a parliament in which the voices of all Africans are heard is a necessary tool, not only to deepen democracy but also to give expression to the aspirations of Africans everywhere.

The launch of a Pan-African Parliament will truly herald a new dawn for the peoples of Africa. It would, for the first time, at a continental level, give a voice to elected African representatives to monitor, and hold accountable the leaders of our time.

As we embark on the African century and make the African renaissance a tangible reality, we begin to seriously tackle the many challenges we face.

We are also establishing institutions to enable Africa to play its rightful role in the world.

As elected parliamentarians we must be acutely aware of our responsibilities and the challenges we face if we are to serve the interests of the people.

Article 16 of the Constitutive Act states, and I quote: "In order to ensure the full participation of the people...a Pan African Parliament shall be established."

The participation of the people in democratic institutions, and the ability of parliamentarians to fight for the interests of the people, will ensure the success of the Pan African Parliament.

Colleagues, Africa has for many decades yearned for peace and development.

Many of her sons and daughters have perished, and many young African lives have been torn apart from violent armed conflicts.

We need to address the root causes of conflict and poverty that is often a tragic consequence. As an organ of the African Union, your participation in conflict resolution and conflict management is critical and I hope once established, the Pan African Parliament will play a key role in this regard.

Honourable members, the role of women in conflict resolution, and also in affairs of the Continent is a crucial one. We should therefore applaud the fact that at least one of the five representatives of each country will have to be a woman. African women have a lot to contribute and are already playing a key role in governance in this continent and should be present in the Continent's legislature.

All of us are aware that the establishment of a continental Parliament is a crucial step in the full establishment of the AU. The Protocol establishing the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) requires ratification by a simple majority of Member States.

While we are pleased that as of 28 April 2003, 30 Member States had signed, we appeal for greater enthusiasm, as only 19 have ratified it, including Botswana, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, SADR, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Togo. We therefore need at least 8 more ratifications to meet the required 27.

We are aware that the Steering Committee of the Parliament met on 28 April 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We welcome the work done by the Steering Committee, and take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Frene Ginwala, the Speaker of the South African Parliament on being elected chairperson.

We are pleased that in this meeting you considered strategies on expediting the ratification and entry into force of the PAP Protocol and also exchanged views on the vision of the Pan African Parliament.

Colleagues would be aware of South Africa's offer to host this important institution. We are confident that, with the cooperation of all Member States, we can successfully play this role, and hope you will support us in this regard.

We are all looking forward to the establishment of the African Parliament.

The reason why we believe it is important is that with the changing political and economic landscape of the Continent, and with the vision that the leaders in the Continent are articulating in the Constitutive Act of the AU, we need a way of ensuring that these good things are implemented within reasonable time frames.

The Pan African Parliament is so far the only appropriate institution to ensure that governments and states in the Continent implement the AU programmes by exercising the oversight on governments and states.

The Pan African Parliament is the only single continental institution that is composed by the public representatives who are elected by the overwhelming population of the Continent. If this is the case, the question is what are we doing in preparing ourselves in playing this role. How effective can we play this role?

These are pertinent questions for the meeting parliamentarians to address for the good of our Continent. As parliamentarians we need to put the interests of the people in the Continent first.

To me these are major challenges that the MPs, as they discuss the Pan African Parliament, should address concretely and effectively. Time has come for us not to leave things to chance or assume that things will come right on their own. We need to be proactive.

Let me wish you well in your important deliberations over the next two days.

I am sure that you will come up with the correct ideas on how to expedite the ratification and operationalisation processes.

I wish you successful deliberations in your session.

I Thank You.

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