The President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) H.E. Hon. Chief Fortune Zephania Charumbira has called on African Diplomats to act as PAP’s “brand ambassadors” in African Union (AU) Member States, as the new Bureau embarks on a journey to “revive, renew, reposition, and reinvigorate” the continental Parliament.
The call was made during a plenary meeting of African Diplomatic Heads of Mission accredited to the Republic of South Africa, where the leader of the legislative organ of the AU was invited to present the vision of the Bureau of the 6th Parliament of the PAP. The PAP President was accompanied by the 1st Vice President, Hon. Prof. Massouda Mohamed Laghdaf (Mrs.); 2nd Vice President, Hon. Dr Ashebiri Gayo; and 4th Vice President, Hon. Francois Ango Ndoutoume.
Recalling the election of the Bureau held in June 2022, H.E.Hon. Chief Charumbira told African Diplomats gathered at the Tswane Municipality in Pretoria, South Africa that the election process signalled the return to full operational functionality of the PAP and, more importantly, the entrenchment of the principle of rotational leadership at the level of the Presidency.
“Rotational leadership brings predictability, predictability breeds certainty, certainty fosters stability and stability engenders peace. There is no leadership contestation with rotation. On behalf of the PAP Bureau and, indeed, on my own behalf, I would like to convey our appreciation to all of you for the role you played in supporting the principle of geographical rotation. I am pleased to report that after its elections, the Bureau of the 6th Parliament made sure that the principle of rotation is observed throughout all the structures including leadership of Regional Caucuses and Permanent Committees,” said H.E. Hon. Charumbira.
Regarding the vision of the Bureau of the 6th Parliament, the President of the PAP reminded African Ambassadors that the new leadership takes over at a time when the AU and the PAP are facing numerous challenges including poverty, rising unemployment, unconstitutional changes in governments, lack of control over resources, new conflicts and violence, economic progress retarded by the COVID-19 pandemic and commodity-based economies with limited value addition and beneficiation, among others.
In this regard, the PAP Bureau, according to its President, seeks to ensure that the PAP regains the confidence of the African citizenry and reclaims its place in the continental governance matrix by making an impactful contribution to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Africa through its consultative and advisory role. “At the end of our tenure, the PAP must be visible throughout the continent, inclusive in its approach, united, relevant and impactful to the African citizenry. Our thrust is driven by the operative mantra, ‘Reviving, Renewing, Repositioning and Reinvigorating the Pan-African Parliament.’”
Citing some of the strides made thus far in realising this vision since taking office, the President of the PAP briefed the meeting on the PAP’s commitment to work closely with AU Organs to implement and achieve AU policies, programmes and objectives, including Agenda 2063. This is evidenced by the establishment of communication channels and engagement platforms with the AU policy organs and AUC Departments as part of repairing the negative image of the PAP. For instance, the recent consultation between the PAP Bureau and the Department for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) led to the resumption of the PAP’s role in Election Observation Missions (EOMs), which are an integral part of representative democracy.
Other notable progress areas discussed with African Heads of Diplomatic Missions included convening a Strategic Reorientation Workshop for all PAP members to appreciate the mandate of the Parliament, review its performance, identify challenges and opportunities, and inculcate shared values and understanding of the mandate and objectives. The PAP President also highlighted the 11th Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments, held last month, as a means of strengthening collaboration with National Parliaments and enhancing the visibility of the PAP.
The restructuring of Permanent Committees and the process of revising the Rules of Procedure are currently underway to ensure that the PAP structures focus on delivering tangible outcomes. It was further announced that a retreat with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) is on the cards to address the challenges the PAP is facing and strengthen relations with other AU Organs.
Finally, H.E. Hon. Chief Charumbira acknowledged the important contribution that African Ambassadors can make in strengthening the PAP’s role in the continental governance matrix. The President appealed for Ambassadors to play the role of “brand ambassadors” for the PAP by helping enhance visibility on the continent and strengthen bilateral relations with the AU Member States. Ambassadors were also called upon to mobilise support for the ratification of the Malabo Protocol and other AU Legal Instruments while keeping Member States abreast of all PAP’s activities.
“We cannot afford to spend resources on the PAP as Member States but at the same time disassociate from it or ignore it. We have a responsibility to work together to ensure that the PAP delivers on the missions and objectives for which it was established. We have moved from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and disagreements over the election of a new Bureau in 2021, which prevented the Parliament from holding sittings for two years. We are now in a phase of delivery, and we count on all stakeholders to achieve our objectives” Concluded H.E. Hon. Chief Charumbira.
In response to the call made by the President of the PAP, the Dean of African Heads of Diplomatic Missions in South Africa appointed a focal team made up of Ambassadors from Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Congo Brazzaville, Mali and Zimbabwe to work closely with the PAP to address challenges and pertinent issues. Egypt was nominated as the coordinator of the focal team.