Today, 18 March 2023, marks the Pan-African Parliament Day (PAP Day) which commemorates the inauguration of the first Parliament of the PAP on 18 March 2004 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Pan-African Parliamentarians, under the leadership of H.E Chief Fortune Charumbira, held a commemorative event yesterday at the seat of the Parliament in Midrand to “reflect on the journey” as the institution turns 19. The event sought to retrace the origin and context of establishment of the PAP.
The celebrations included musical performances by the African Cultural Music and Dance Association (ACUMDA) and a presentation by Prof Motshekga Mathole of the Kara Heritage Institute on the “Whither Pan-Africanism, African Culture, and Heritage.”
The PAP Day was officially launched in 2021 to educate citizens about the Continental Parliament and ignite conversations about its future in line with its mandate.
The establishment of the PAP amongst the AU organs signalled a historical milestone and perhaps the most important development in the strengthening of the AU institutional architecture. It laid solid grounds for democratic governance and oversight within the African Union system and provided a formal “platform for the peoples of Africa to get involved in discussions and decision-making on issues affecting the continent.”
The genesis of the PAP can be legally traced back from 1991 with the adoption of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, adopted on 3 June 1991 in Abuja (also known as the Abuja Treaty). This treaty defined the pillars and grounds for realizing economic development and integration in Africa and called for the creation of a continental parliament, amongst a set of organs, as tools for the realization of African integration and economic development. This call was reemphasized in the Sirte Declaration of 1999, which called for the accelerate implementation of the provisions of the Abuja Treaty.
The PAP celebrated its ten years of existence in March 2014, a year which coincided with the adoption, on 27 June 2014, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Malabo Protocol), which, once in force, will transform the PAP into a legislative body of the AU. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.
The commemoration of the PAP Day, therefore, serves as a reminder to the decision-makers around the continent to fulfil their commitment to the PAP by ratifying its Protocol, 19 years after sanctioning its establishment. 14 AU member states have so far ratified the Malabo Protocol.
Yesterday’s celebrations of the PAP Day coincided with the closing ceremony of the Sitting of the PAP Permanent Committees and other Organs. The Sitting took place in Midrand, South Africa under the AU theme for 2023, “Accelerating the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” from 6 to 17 March 2023.
PAP President, H.E. Chief Fortune Charumbira expressed appreciation to members for their commitment during the two-week engagement.
“We have come to the end of our programme and it is appropriate that we end on a high note with the PAP Day celebrations. We your return your respective countries ensure that the work achieved over the past two weeks is transmitted to national for the benefit of our citizens,” concluded H.E Chief Charumbira.