Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during the opening of the 5th Ordinary Session of the Fourth Pan African Parliament, Midrand, 9 October 2017
Your Excellency, President of the Pan African Parliament, Honourable Roger Nkodo Dang,
Your Excellency, President of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mr Brahim Ghali,
Members of the Bureau of the Pan African Parliament,
Speakers of National Parliaments,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Honourable Members of the Pan African Parliament,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am humbled to be afforded this opportunity to welcome you to our country; and permit me to extend our warm greetings to all of you on behalf of President Zuma, our Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa.
I would like to extend a special word of welcome to His Excellency, President Brahim Ghali of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, to this august assembly. Warm greetings to you, Your Excellency!
I would like to congratulate the new Members of the Pan African Parliament and wish them well as they begin their tenure. Their fresh ideas, rich and varied skills will complement the experience of the honourable members who have been in the service of our people for a while. The AU requires stronger organs in order to achieve the political and economic integration agenda of the continent. Your commitment to the functioning of this continental body is commended and highly appreciated.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the Pan African Parliament is beneficial to the continent’s citizens. South Africa, as the host Seat for the past thirteen years, will continue to create an enabling and conducive environment for the successful holding of sessions of this parliament of our people across the content.
Honourable Members, Excellencies,
South Africa remains committed to the strengthening of our continental bodies, its organs and mechanisms aimed at integration, sustainable development and attainment of peace and security. We are committed to the goals we have set, in particular ending poverty and silencing the guns by 2020.
While we have recorded some successes in the past, more must be done in pursuit of our shared continental vision and trajectory as encapsulated in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
We therefore believe that the continued implementation of our regional and continental mechanisms and protocols should be guided by the aspirations espoused in Agenda 2063 through firm and unwavering commitments. The Pan African Parliament is central in all these continental efforts and aspirations – and the commitment shown by its Members through their work cannot be over-emphasised.
Your Excellencies and Honourable Members,
In recognition of the centrality of the role of the youth in Africa’s development, the AU adopted “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth” as its theme for the year 2017. During the July Summit of the AU, the Youth Fund was launched to assist in realisation of the aspirations of the young people of our continent. The African Youth Forum was also established during this AU Summit, and will be an annual event that focuses on youth participation in Africa’s decision-making processes for the continent’s development. In this regard, the AU has placed the youth at the centre of Africa’s future. Our youth and the society at large should actively participate in our efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous continent.
We are confident that the Pan African Parliament will contribute to this policy objective, both in terms of the Pan African Parliament’s substantive mandate and by providing opportunities to the youth of our continent.
Our leaders have made a call for the ratification of the Revised PAP Protocol by all AU member-states. The entry into force of the process will be an important step for the strengthening of the Pan African Parliament. The strengthening of our institutions must result in entrenchment of democracy and good governance, promote and protect human rights.
Mr President and Honourable Members,
It is heartening to note that the Pan African Parliament is making its own contribution to the sustainable development and integration of our continent. The outcomes of your recent conference on political and socio-economic integration of the African continent are most welcomed, and will add more impetus on the efforts aimed at achieving the goals of integration. This is not the first time that the Pan African Parliament had convened forums to deliberate and strengthen African positions on issues of continental importance. It has done so previously in cooperation with other AU organs, AU Member States individually and collectively, Development Partners, civil society organisations, business and academia.
As you are aware Africa’s developmental agenda can only be achieved within a peaceful, stable and favorable conditions. South Africa reaffirms its commitment to peace and security on the continent. Our involvement in peace-keeping missions, and contributions to efforts aimed at post-conflict reconstruction and development are evidence of the commitment we make to achieve sustainable development on the continent.
The Pan African Parliament is an important organ that enables us to ensure active citizenry and promote participatory democracy. Thus active citizenry will not only assist us to realize our Agenda 2063 vision and trajectory, but will also go a long way in enabling us to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
I wish to express my appreciation that the Pan African Parliament has recognized the central role of women and youth at in the search for the Africa We Want. I trust that your deliberations and resolutions will also strengthen the continent’s aspirations for peace and security, and propel us towards realising Agenda 2063’s goal of silencing the guns by 2020. Let us continue to speak with one voice, and say that a peaceful Africa is long-overdue.
We have recently participated in the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 72), whose theme encompassed peace and security, humanitarian affairs and human rights, as well as socio-economic and sustainable development. We further committed ourselves to address the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and inequality. We also included in these deliberations the call to combat illicit financial flows. All these issues are pertinent to our continent. The need to achieve peace and a decent life for all of our people should drive our continental resolve and be our uniting, rallying call.
South Africa has recently assumed the chairship of the SADC, and will soon be chairing the BRICS, and co-chairing the FOCAC. In August, the BRICS Development Bank opened the Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is an alternative source of funding for infrastructure and socio-economic development programs. Our hope is that all of these initiatives will benefit our continent and her people.
All of these efforts are influenced by the teachings and values of our esteemed leader, Comrade President OR Tambo – who would have turned a hundred years-old this month, had he been alive. As we remember and celebrate the life of this distinguished son of Africa, we remain committed to the ideals of pan-Africanism. Speaking in 1961 at the Pan-African Youth Conference in Tanzania, President OR Tambo said the following about unity:
"I think true and lasting unity, as opposed to the unity we may seek at a given time for the achievement of a certain purpose, is one which is conceived on the basis of the essential oneness of mankind, based on what is basically a common human problem."
Let me conclude by congratulating you on successfully participating in the AU Election Observer Missions, as well as Fact Finding Missions during the course of the year 2017. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of your oversight role in pursuit of peace and security, promotion of democracy and good governance, as well as promoting economic growth in our continent. It is therefore heartening to note that you have decided to utilise the occasion of this Fifth Ordinary Session to debate these issues.
I wish you a successful Fifth Session and fruitful deliberations.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road