Roles and expected deliverables of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in the continental governance agenda, challenges encountered by the continental Parliament in the fulfilment of its mandate, the legal status of Members of Parliament in the African Union (AU) architecture, and financial and resource support required for PAP to effectively fulfil its mandate will be the main points on the agenda when the legislative arm of the Union and the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) hold a Joint Retreat in the city of Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa from 19 to 20 December 2022.
The Retreat presents an opportunity to critically reflect on the challenges affecting the effective exercise by the PAP of its mandate within the African Union institutional architecture, including interrogating the efficacy of the present institutional arrangements and whether they enable the PAP to achieve its mandate; assessing the current legal status and incentives for PAP Members and how it impacts on their work and the overall attainment of the PAP’s mandate; and, exploring better opportunities for sustainable inter-organ synergies and increased institutional support for the PAP.
Comprised of Permanent Representatives to the AU and other plenipotentiaries of Member States, the PRC acts as an advisory body to the Executive Council, considers the AU’s program and budget and makes recommendations to the Executive Council, and monitors the implementation of the AU Budget.
As a background, the PAP and the PRC met in February 2020 and agreed to hold a Joint Retreat to strengthen collaboration between the two Organs and promote synergies in addressing the challenges affecting the PAP. The decision was reiterated at the PRC-PAP Meetings held in February 2021 and in April 2021.
Furthermore, at the 4th Mid-Year Co-ordination Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 2022, the Executive Council of the AU reaffirmed the need for a Joint Retreat between the PAP and the PRC through its decision, EX.CL/Dec.1028(XXXII), directed the PRC to hold a Retreat with the PAP, “to address all the concerns and challenges that affect the delivery and operations of the Organ.” This followed the consideration of the report on the implementation of Executive Council Decision EX.CL/DEC.1128 (XXXIX) on the Pan-African Parliament.
Following its election in June 2022, the 6th Bureau of the PAP, led by H.E Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, conducted several consultations with the leadership of the PRC to ensure that the Retreat is urgently convened in line with the Executive Council decision to report back to its next Ordinary Session in February 2023.
The President of the PAP has described the Retreat as a turning point for the Continental Parliament 18 years after its establishment. H.E Hon. Chief Charumbira says that the engagement comes at an opportune time as it coincides with the Parliament’s journey to “revive, renew, reposition and reinvigorate” itself. The President further stresses the importance of synergies between the PAP and PRC and the need for collaboration in achieving Africa’s integration and economic development.
“The Retreat is an opportunity for the PAP and PRC to develop a shared understanding of the mandate, core business and deliverables of the PAP and the strategic direction that the institution is taking. It is important to note that for the PAP to successfully revive, renew, reposition and reinvigorate itself, its programmes must be implementable. It is critical, therefore that the PRC should fully understand and appreciate the performance imperatives of the Pan-African Parliament. Similarly, the PAP should also fully understand the expectations of the Union as represented by the PRC. We look forward to candid, robust and transparent engagements with African Ambassadors accredited to our Union for a better understanding and appreciation of PAP’s deliverables in relation to the expectations of the African citizenry,” says H.E Hon. Charumbira.
Intervening on the occasion of a preparatory meeting on Thursday ahead of the Retreat, Ambassador Lamine Thiaw (Senegal), Chairperson of the PRC highlighted the significance of the consultation with the PAP, referring to the meeting as a commitment from the Member States of the Union to support the Continental Parliament in fully realizing its intended purpose to “ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent.”
The opening day of the Retreat will include a keynote address by the Guest of Honour: Hon. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, the Republic of South Africa on: “The Role of the Pan-African Parliament in the Integration and Economic Development of Africa: Giving Full Effect to the Dream of the African Union Founding Fathers”
The two-day programme will consist of a blend of presentations and plenary debates. The PAP Bureau and the PRC Bureau are also expected to deliberate and agree on the strategic imperatives that will catalyse the performance of the PAP in the short, medium and long term.