Opening Statement by Dr Gertrude I Mongella, President of the Pan African Parliament to Member of the Parliament and Invited Guests on the Opening Ceremony of the 4th Session, 21 November 2005

Honourable Members by virtue of powers vested in me by rule 30 (1) (h) of the Rules of Procedure I invite the following to the Chamber:

Deputy Minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of South Africa, Sue van der Merwe;

African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Madam Dolly Joiner;

The Dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia, Professor Garnett Strokes

It is indeed a great honour for me to welcome you the Pan-African on this historic occasion unveiling this Chamber, the construction of which has been made possible by the host country, the Republic of South Africa. This is in addition to the offices for Members and staff which we already occupy. PAP will forever be grateful to President Thabo Mbeki in particular and the people of the Republic of South Africa in general for their continued contribution and support offered to this Parliament in pursuance of the Host Country Agreement. PAP further extends its appreciation the management of Gallagher Estate for the commitment and hospitality it has offered to this Parliament. There are individual members I would like to recognise; Ambassador Seleka from the Department of Foreign Affairs who is designated to work with PAP on a daily basis; Mr Dunkley, Manager of Gallagher, Sue Singh of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the internal decorators and everybody who contributed, we say thank you, even those who worked behind the curtains to support the Parliament.

Honorable Members, this is the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Pan-Africa Parliament since its inception. PAP is making progress not only in terms of the number of meetings but also in the content of the functions that this Parliament is called upon to perform.

Since its inception the achievements of PAP include advocacy whereby the Bureau has been involved in putting the Parliament on the map in Africa and internationally by way of speeches on this body as an Organ of the African Union and its engagement in providing a voice for matters concerning the people of Africa. The Parliament has also sent out peace missions to the Darfur region of the Sudan and Mauritania. Members have also served in observer Missions of the African Union.

The Parliament has continued to strengthen collaboration has been mainly in terms of loaning and seconding PAP support staff, taking into consideration the limited human resources available to this new Organ. We continue to be grateful for this assistance.

Through the Bureau, PAP has established relationships with various international organisations and institutions such as the European Parliament, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the Afro Parliamentarian Association, the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), UNDESA and the Latin American Parliament, an opening we want utilise especially in strengthening the trust fund when it is established. These institutions are just a few, with whom we continue to exchange view, expertise and experiences.

Honourable Members Article 17 of the Constitutive Act established this Parliament in order to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent of Africa. Article 2 (2) of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament requires us to be the representatives of the peoples of Africa. It is us who carry the aspirations of the peoples of Africa.

Through these inst6ruments PAP is charged with the oversight function. This role lies at the heart of the mandate of every parliament and PAP is no exception. Let me hasten to indicate that this is one of the topics that will occupy the center stage during this Session and during the life of this Parliament.

While the Protocol defines the PAP as a consultative and advisory body, it is the same envisages that this Parliament will evolve into a body with full legislative powers. During this transitional period we must therefore strategically position this Parliament so as to reach its ultimate destination of being an institution with full legislative powers. Our programs and the issues that we debate in this Parliament should be geared towards the realisation of this goal.

As we perform our functions we have to remind ourselves of the fact that the oath that we took as members of this Parliament compels to preserve, protect and defend the Constitutive Act and the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament. In performing our functions, we should be mindful of the fact that we are bound by the discipline of these founding documents. We must carry out the mandate conferred upon us by these instruments.

Honourable Members, we are meeting here at the time when some of the African countries have undergone change of government through democratic elections. It is within this context that I take this opportunity to commend the peoples of Burundi, Somalia and Liberia for their peaceful and democratic elections. As women and men of this Continent we have to give effect to the principle of equality of women and men in Africa. The elections of Ms Ellen Johnson of Liberia as the first woman president in Africa demonstrates that the principle of equality of representation of women and men in the organs of power is taking root in this continent. Allow me therefore Honorable Members, on my behalf and your behalf to extend my profound congratulations to Ms Ellen Johnson on her election as of Liberia. The demonstrates t6hat Africa is well set on the path of recognising that women are as capable to lead as men.

I appeal to all the women and men of this continent to support Ms Ellen Johnson in her efforts to govern Liberia. Honourable Members as representative of different political parties and possible contenders of elections in our countries, we have to learn to accept the outcomes of democratic processes in general and elections in particular.

We have seen that where one does not win then the elections were not free and fair. We have to learn from Ellen Johnson who lost the elections and waited for the next elections.

This Fourth Ordinary Session of the Pan-African Parliament is set to deal with several issues of importance. The presentation of and the debate on the Strategic Plan 2006-2010 for this Parliament shall set the tone of the issues that we shall deal with during this Session. It outlines the strategic route that this Parliament shall follow in the next in the five years while building its capacity to become a legislative powers. We therefore have to ensure that we achieve the objective that we set for ourselves.

We shall also debate among other things, the Budget of this Parliament for 2006 and of the Community, peace and security issues in Africa, the Report of the Commission for Africa in relation to NEPAD and the reports of the Committees of the Pan-African Parliament.

Honourable Members, distinguished guests, I formally declare the fourth Ordinary session of the Pan-African Parliament officially opened.

 

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