Remarks by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, on the occasion of the Second Ordinary Session of the Third Parliament, Midrand, 06 May 2013.
Your Excellency President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr John Dramani;
The Chair of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma;
The President of the Pan African Parliament, Mr Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi;
Honourable Members of the Parliament from the various AU Member States present here;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Guests; and
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Allow me on behalf of the South African government to warmly welcome you all to our country and wish you successful deliberations of your Second Ordinary session of the Third Parliament.
Most importantly, Mr President, let me recognise the presence of His Excellency John Dramani the President of the Republic of Ghana. As we all are aware, President Dramani is not new to this chamber as he was once an Honourable Member of this body and contributed immensely in the work of the Pan African Parliament.
As the South African government we have followed the debates in this house very closely and we are encouraged how these have impacted positively in finding solutions to the problems that have affected Africa.
It is our hope that the Pan African Parliament will continue to fight for its space within the AU family, as it represents a very important constituency, and it is through it that the ordinary person in Africa can find a voice.
We have followed very closely the fact-finding missions undertaken to various affected regions of our continent to assess the impact that the Pan African Parliament has had in pursuance of its work. In this regard, we wish to note your missions to Mali, Sudan and South Sudan.
As Member-States of the AU, we welcome these missions and encourage the various sub-committees of the Pan African Parliament to undertake more of these.
Mr President and Honourable Members
South Africa continues to support the transformation of the Pan African Parliament from an advisory to a legislative body, but we also believe that the consultation process decided upon by the Assembly of the African Union must indeed take place. Whilst this process of consultation continues, the Pan African Parliament should continue to grow the influence of its advisory status.
The 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU is indeed an occasion to celebrate. We will join other African countries in providing a fitting tribute to our continental organisation. Among the envisaged national activities is a lecture series to be delivered by President Zuma at selected Universities across the country under the theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”.
We will seize the opportunity presented by these celebrations to popularise the flag and anthem of the African Union among our people.
Our National Parliament has also developed its own programme. A special, commemorative Joint Seating of Parliament is scheduled for early next month.
Plans are afoot for activities that will involve sections of our civil society such as the media, NGOs, think-tanks and the academia.
On 9 August, South Africa’s Women’s Day, an event will be organised to highlight the significant role that women played within the framework of the Golden Jubilee of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation.
The 50th Anniversary of our organisation is also a moment for reflection on the road that we have travelled since our independence. One thing is clear, the two objectives we had at the inception of the OAU fifty years ago – namely, African Unity and decolonisation – have for the most part been achieved. What is left for us in this area is to consolidate our unity, including strengthening our continental institutions such as the PAP.
As we celebrate the success of the OAU/AU, we recall that our dear brothers and sisters in the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic still suffer from territorial occupation and oppression.
The celebration of the Golden Jubilee of our Union is the beginning of another journey to the next fifty years – to 2063. This is a journey that we ourselves must undertake, building on the legacy we inherited from the forbearers of Pan-Africanism. We have a duty to pass to future generations a legacy as rich as the one we inherited from those who came before us. The success of our generation will be measured by the extent to which we overcome challenges of peace and security on the continent, as well as those of underdevelopment, poverty, inequality, and strengthening democracy and good governance.
This is the task given to us by history – a task that will define our generation.
As South Africa, we remain committed to contributing to building a better Africa and a better world; continental and international solidarity; and the transformation of global governance institutions.
We are grateful that our country was chosen as the host for this organ of our Union. To this end, we will continue to discharge our responsibility in this regard.
In conclusion, Mr President, allow me to reiterate our Government’s wishes for your hosting of a successful Session, and it is our fervent hope that Honourable Members will find in them the necessary energy and zeal to fully participate in the two-week long activities.
The African people are looking up to you to continue to fly the AU flag high towards the Renaissance of our continent!