Hon. Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, representing the Guest of Honour H.E Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, has declared open the First Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), on Monday, 31 October 2022.
With pressing global issues top of mind, and the African continent at the centre of debates about energy, climate change, conflict and food security, the PAP’s role in Africa’s development continues to be scrutinised after a return to full functionality in June 2022 this year, following the election of a new leadership.
Members of the continental Parliament are convening until 11 November 2022 under the African Union theme of 2022: “Building resilience in nutrition on the African continent: Accelerate the human capital, social and economic development.”
In his keynote address, Hon. Ronald Lamola pledged the continued support of the South African government to the operations of the PAP. He reflected that the work of Parliamentarians during this Session should help advance socio-economic development, as well as democracy, human rights and the rule of law as individual representatives of African States, through the strengthening of accountability mechanisms at the national level, but also help to forge common pathways towards regional and continental integration.
Highlighting the rebranding of the PAP and the process to reform and restructure the Parliament to make it more efficient and relevant as we face the critical challenges of a new world, H.E Hon. Charumbira underscored the role of the institution he leads in the continental development agenda.
“Clearly, the PAP has a critical role to play in ensuring that the subjects of themes past and present do not fall off the radar when our people, our Member States and our continent are still struggling with those issues. It is clearly within our remit as the continental oversight organ to continue following up on the effective implementation of the policies and programmes of the Union notwithstanding the fact that a particular theme has elapsed,” said HE. Hon. Charumbira.
“We salute you,” Rt. Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland KC, Commonwealth Secretary-General, told new PAP members in her special statement to parliament. Rt. Hon. Scotland was one of the four special guests at the opening ceremony. “The role of the PAP is now more important than ever, and its members will have to lead us into a better, brighter future, despite glaring challenges,” she said.
The importance of agriculture, and the role that climate change and the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), will play in assuring food security on the continent, was emphasised by Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament. Hon. Tunis delivered the first message of solidarity to Parliament in the morning.
“Africa has huge agricultural potential, but we must invest in the entire food chain and inter-continental trade through the AfCFTA. This is key if we want to end hunger on the continent, Said Rt. Hon. Tunis.
After Hon. Rawhi Fattouh, Speaker of the Palestine National Council thanked the PAP for its support in the Palestine struggle, he reminded parliament that African countries played a significant role in ending colonialism, but that the fight is not over yet. “Remember, you are the voice of Africa, and Africa needs to speak with one voice. We are under the same sky,” he added.