Message of Solidarity by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the Seventh (7th) Ordinary Session of the Second Pan-African Parliament, Gallagher Estate, Midrand, 21 May 2012

Your Excellency President of the Republic of Chad, Mr Idriss Deby Itno
The Chair of the AU Commission, Dr Jean Ping;
The President of the Pan African Parliament, Dr Idriss Moussa Ndele;
Honourable Members of the Parliament from the various Member States (of the African Union) here present;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Guests; and
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak to this important Organ of the African Union (AU) on the occasion of the opening of the 7th Ordinary Session of the Second Pan African Parliament.

On behalf of the people and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and on my own behalf, I welcome you to our beautiful country – the country of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and many other heroes who helped liberate our continent from colonialism. It is our fervent hope and wish that you will find the serene environment suitable for your work and deliberations on issues of common interest. We are certain that you will find South Africa as your home away from home.

We are humbled by the opportunity accorded to our country to host this august body of our Union, the Pan African Parliament (PAP). It remains our commitment to build a well deserving precinct as a seat of the Pan African Parliament. In this regard, our efforts are fully underway. Respective South African authorities are ceased with this matter.

Honourable Members of the Parliament,

We are encouraged that the PAP has found resonance and impact within the broader AU family. We are encouraged that as elected leaders of our people you are in the forefront of finding solutions to the challenges that afflict our continent, like in the sister African countries of Egypt, Tunisia, and Cote d’ Ivoire, amongst others. You are right in the coalface of efforts aimed at bringing lasting solutions to African Challenges.

Furthermore, we enjoin you, Honourable Members, not rest until the issue of the Western Sahara is fully resolved to ensure that the people of that country are free and allowed to exercise their right to self-determination.

Mr President,

We always remind ourselves that the institutional birth of the PAP comes from the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community that was signed in June 1991 and came into force in May 1994. The Treaty called for the establishment of the PAP as a platform for the African peoples to be actively involved in the affairs and decisions of the AU. However, the Treaty envisioned a long term establishment of the PAP.  It was with the transition to the African Union, and thanks to the Constitutive Act of our Union, that the establishment of the PAP was fast-tracked.

We believe therefore as a country, that the PAP is a very important Organ of the AU, with an enormous responsibility in the democratisation process of our continent. The PAP has shown over the years since its establishment that it is a key player in peace-building, promoting socio-economic development, and enhancing the unity and integration of our continent.

The vision of our leaders in establishing the PAP was to ensure that the peoples of Africa become active participants in the decisions of the AU pertaining to all aspects of our integration. The PAP has the task is to promote our shared values of democracy and good governance.

Mr President,

Indeed, the PAP has been in the forefront of the efforts that brought into being the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance – which South Africa has ratified. This Charter, as you are all aware, aims to help improve not only political governance on our continent, but also our economic and social governance. It is our responsibility as the political leadership to create and foster enabling conditions for the socio-economic upliftment of our respective countries.

This important contribution by the PAP in the birth of this Charter is a firm demonstration of our collective, solemn commitment to the objectives and principles enshrined in the AU’s Constitutive Act, particularly Article 3 and 4 which emphasise the promotion of democracy and good governance, public participation, respect for the rule-of-law, and promotion and protection of human rights on the continent.  The Charter further is an instrument which promotes the participation of our people in democratic processes. The Charter provides the necessary impetus for participatory democracy, whereby all segments of the society have a say in the administration of public affairs. The PAP, is an appropriate vehicle and a voice for our people, is well positioned to advance participatory democracy on the continent.

We commend the PAP for launching and embarking on a campaign to encourage AU member states to ratify this Charter.  We are informed that this campaign was conducted in all the five regions of the AU and helped increase in number of ratifications from four Member States to 15 in one year, leading to the entry into force of the Charter in February 2012.

As South Africa, we share the concern expressed by many on our continent that the pace of the accession to this important Charter has been far from satisfactory. We therefore encourage more Member States to do the right thing and join all of us who have signed and ratified this Charter. However, this Charter must be given effect by domesticating it so that it can have an impact and a meaning to our people.

On behalf of South Africa, please allow us, Mr President, to expresses our deep appreciation for the role that the PAP, through its able parliamentarians, continue to play towards the promotion of the ratification of AU Treaties within Member States. The PAP continues to assist us with the implementation of these instruments, especially their domestication by AU member states.

Mr President and Honourable Members,

We are heartened by the recent developments between the Republic of Sudan and Southern Sudan and wish to implore the two sister countries to continue to endeavour to finding a lasting solution to live peacefully as neighbours. 

The situation in Somalia continues to call on all of us to be firm and resolute in our collective determination to work with the people and leadership of that country for lasting peace.  We commend the leadership of IGAD in this regard, and salute heroic sacrifices being displayed by the AMISOM, Ethiopia and Kenya.

We are also saddened by the latest developments in Mali and Guinea Bissau. We applaud the ECOWAS for its sterling efforts in resolving the crises those two countries.

Mr President,

Within our region, we remain committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe.

Madagascar should return to our fold as a full member of our Union in accordance with the Road Map agreed to by the parties in that country.

Mr President,

This Session of the PAP meets at a time when Africa has been experiencing significant economic growth when many countries in the world are still feeling the effects of the global economic crisis. We are encouraged that a greater part of deliberations during this session will concentrate on this matter. You have lined up eminent speakers who will discuss with you issues of boosting intra-African trade.

Mr President and Honourable Members,

We are pleased that the PAP has made important strides since its establishment to become one of the organs that are supporting the integration process of the AU. You continue to ensure that as an institution, the PAP is underpinned by an effective and efficient administration based on the principle of good governance.

I say this mindful of the fact that the PAP requires capacity to carry out its important functions. It remains important in this regard for member states to continue to provide the required support to the PAP to enable it to carry out its mandate. It is, therefore, necessary for us to redouble our efforts in working towards the transformation of this Organ from its advisory status to a legislative one.

We support the campaign and the decision of the AU to have the protocol of the PAP reviewed to ensure a stronger parliament.

Honourable Members,

This Session is held at a very historic time in the life of our country; when we are celebrating the 100 years of the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest liberation movement in the African Continent. We continue to recognise the contribution made by your respective countries to the liberation of our country.

Furthermore, Honourable Members, in three days time, the leaders of our people will converge in our country for the historic African Diaspora Summit. We are pleased that from tomorrow you will be deliberating on this important event with the view to contributing to the outcomes of this Summit.

We, therefore, wish you success in your deliberations throughout this Session.

Once again, welcome to the Republic of South Africa. Your presence in our country for this session reassures us that we will not fail our people when we have on our continent leaders of your calibre who are ready to leave behind their homes and families to serve Africa.

I thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa