Statement delivered by Deputy Minister Mfeketo during the Official Opening of the PAP Session in Midrand, 19 May 2015
Honourable President Bethel Armadi; President of the Pan African Parliament and the members of the Bureau
H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya
H.E Deputy President Mahamed Abderlrahman of the Republic of Sudan
Honourable National Speakers from National Parliaments from around the continent
Honourable Members of the Pan African Parliament
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Invited distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Mr President, allow me on behalf of the South African government and indeed the people of South Africa to warmly welcome you all to our country. It is our fervent hope that the African people for whom you carry huge aspirations. As we march towards the realisation of the African Dream as espoused through the continental Agenda adopted by African Heads of State and Government; Agenda 2063. A lot is expected from this august body of the African people and I believe that the Pan African Parliament in your able hands, Mr President is well suited to discharge its task. The support of National Parliament is also to empower the PAP to make Model Laws and be responsive to the needs of our people across the African continent. As for the South African Government, we remain committed to continue host and support the Pan African Parliament. Efforts are afoot by government to explore the best possible way to allocate a permanent precinct to the PAP and other sister Organs like the NEPAD, the APRM, AFCONE and PAWO
Mr President, it is our belief that the Pan African Parliament will find a conducive climate in our country and the small town of Midrand to execute its mandate during this Sixth Ordinary of the Third Parliament.
Allow me most warmly again welcome His Excellency Uhuru Kenyata the President of the Republic of Kenya and His Excellency Mr Hassan Mohamed Abdelrahman the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and their respective delegations. It is our hope that you have enjoyed our country since arriving. We hope you will find some time within your busy schedules to enjoy your stay.
Mr President and honourable members
We wish to congratulate and thank you on your sterling leadership displayed during your tenure, and your selfless commitment in the execution of your tasks at that office. I join others as we wish you and others well as you embark on a new journey.
As you may be aware, South Africa will host the African Union Summit in June 2015 in terms of a decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted at its meeting in Addis Ababa in January. This will be the second time in the life of the democratic South Africa that we have the honour to host an AU Summit. South Africa hosted the inaugural summit of the AU in the year 2002.
The June 2015 Summit will maintain the theme of the January 2015 Summit, which is: “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. We hope that the Summit will due diligence to its work. As we look forward to the implementation ion of Agenda 2063, issues negatively affecting women and the girl child in the continent will be dealt with and in our lifetime we can attain women emancipation and empowerment. We hope that the Pan African Parliament through its subcommittees will contribute into this long debate. Marking 2o years of the Beijing Platform and its implementation Plan, let us all join and take stock and catapult women empowerment to the top of both our national and continental discourse. It is gratifying to note that the AU Summit in January of 2014, the Executive Council adopted a decision Declaring 2016 as the Year of Human Rights in Africa with Special Focus on the Rights of Women.
Furthermore the Summit will substantively focus on the implementation of a number of decisions taken at the January 2015 Summit, which relate to the following:
- Agenda 2063 and its First Ten Years Implementation Plan
- State of Continental Peace and Security, including terrorism
- Women’s Empowerment and Development
- Alternative Sources of Funding the African Union
- Continental integration and
- Operationalising the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP) by 2015
Just a brief rehash on 2063, In January this year, the Summit adopted the Technical and Popular Versions of Agenda 2063. A strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development on the African continent. It is expected that the mid-year Summit will adopt the First Ten-Year Plan of Agenda 2063. Within our country, we will continue to engage with the First Ten-Year Plan and make sure that it also adapts to changing circumstances to achieve the aspirations of our people.
Agenda 2063 envisions that in fifty years, Africa will be a world leader, setting the standard for inclusive economic development, democratic governance and a humane and just social order.
The events of the past weeks in our country left a bitter taste in our months. We all witnessed acts of wanton violence meted by a brother to a brother and a sister to a sister all because they were non-national and perceived to be responsible for non-availability of Jobs and myopically responsible for all social ills and contestation for scarce resources . This of cause is rather simplistic and opportunistic. We admit that much needs to be done as a form of service delivery and creating better life for our people. As South African government, enjoined by our constitution, we wish to state that we shall protect all people leaving in South Africa, nationals and non-nationals alike. Whilst at the same time advocating for the adherence of all our national laws.
As South Africa and more especially the government, we wish to recall the extent to which this continent stood by our people in an unwavering show of solidarity, as we fought for our liberation. Addressing the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Summit in Tunis, on 13 June 1994, President Nelson Mandela said:
"Africa shed her blood and surrendered the lives of her children so that all her children could be free. She gave of her limited wealth and resources, so that all of Africa should be liberated. She opened her heart of hospitality and her head so full of wise counsel, so that we should emerge victorious. A million times, she put her hand to the plough that has now dug up the encrusted burden of oppression that had accumulated for centuries".
The South African Government continues to view the attacks on foreign nationals as a criminal offence that will not be tolerated. South Africa is a constitutional democracy governed by laws. Everyone working and living in the country must obey its laws in their totality. In the new Constitution of this free and democratic South Africa, we made a promise to ourselves and to the world that we would remain committed to the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism; non-sexism and the rule of law.
Furthermore, at the core of our foreign policy is the commitment we have made to ourselves and to you that we will always prioritise Africa in all our endeavours because we are an integral part of the African continent and must continue to live in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters from the continent.
In a focused and swift response to counter the tragic events of the past weeks, the government has thus far responded by putting the following measures in place:
- President Jacob Zuma has publicly condemned the unwarranted violent attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their businesses and has appealed for calm and tolerance across the country;
- A Panel of Experts led by Former Commissioner Navi Pillay of the Human Rights Council has been set up to advise the Government on the Integration of foreigners into the local communities on an on-going basis. The process of reintegrating the displaced back into their communities has begun;
- Additional law enforcement officers have been mobilised from around the country and deployed to the affected areas to enforce the law and prevent further attacks. The police have been directed to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence, Thus far, a number of suspects Involved In these criminal acts have been arrested;
- All district disaster management centres have been placed on high-alert. A 24-hour call centre has been established and remains accessible In the event that further attacks of this nature occur In the future.
The Sixth Session of the third Parliament convenes against the backdrop of a surge in incidents of terrorism executed without mercy against defenseless and innocent people of our continent. We have witnessed these wanton acts of terror committed against defenseless students in Garrisa, in the Republic of Kenya by Al Shabaab. We witnessed the same in the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Boko Haram acting without impunity and causing havoc of epic proportions and senseless loss of life in that great country. Surely, the continent cannot keep quiet whilst these crimes are committed.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights meeting for its 56th Session in the Gambia, gave a glum picture of the state of human rights in the continent. The Commission identified amongst others; terrorism, statelessness, migrations, acting the continent. The Commission deplored the heavy toll paid by innocent populations in countries plagued by conflicts and terrorism, such as in the Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Libya and Kenya. The Commission identified incidents of political instability in some parts of the continents as potential threats to stability in the continent. The perilous journeys our people embark upon with hopes of finding better life in Europe should be a disgrace to all of us. We should stop the waters of the Mediterranean ocean feeding off African children whilst we look.
If the African Commission can make these bold pronouncements, surely the peoples’ parliament can as well and further deliberate practical solutions and advise the Summit of Heads of states and Government as per the dictates of your mandate. Our collective quietness on these matters will exacerbate the problems and turn Agenda 2063 into a pipe dream. We must therefore all of us call for respect and implementation of our human rights obligations deriving from the African Charter and other relevant human rights treaties that we are all parties to.
Whilst we note these challenges, we cannot stop but acknowledged that have also been positive developments in the continent. We have recently witness successful elections were the will of the people was demonstrated freely. In this regard, allow me Mr President to congratulate your own country and the people of Nigeria for your recently held peaceful election. We hope that these recent election developments signalled a new era in our continent and the countries that are still to hold elections will observe the African Charter on Elections, Politics and Governance and more so the will of the people.
This august body must never tire to call and work for self-determination for the people of the Western Sahara. It is their inalienable rights and we must support them in the realisation of that goal. The PAP has worked very hard in this regard and we urge you to continue to support the people of Western Sahara. As South Africa, we remain steadfast in our support of the people of that sister country.
In conclusion, Mr President, we are aware that the mandate of the third parliament is coming to an end. We wish to congratulate you on your leadership of the PAP that saw the adoption of the revised protocol. We hope that as a tribute to your work for the continent, member-states will ratify the protocol and make it come into force.
We hope that this Session will elect a bureau that will be sensitive to the needs of the African people and drive the work of the PAP forward. We wish you a successful election that will not preoccupy you and derail you from the continental programmes at hand.
We wish you a successful Session and it is our fervent hope that honourable members will have the necessary energy and zeal to fully participate in the two-week long activities. We remain available to support the Session.
Thank you and welcome
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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