The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) President H.E Chief Fortune Charumbira has said that the Continental legislative body should be a beacon of hope for the aspirations, dreams and ideals of the people of Africa.
He was speaking at the Official Opening Ceremony of the Permanent Committees of the sixth Parliament of the PAP which is being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AFCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” currently underway in Midrand, South Africa.
“Whatever we do, during these Committee sessions and beyond, should be focused on meeting and exceeding our stakeholders and stockholders’ expectations of what the PAP can and should deliver,” said H.E Charumbira.
“As the continental representative institution, we are the big brother of all Parliamentary institutions on the continent. This must inspire us to lead by example in spearheading the universal representative and oversight role, albeit without the full legislative functions of a Parliament.
“The PAP must give full expression to the people’s voice on the continent in line with our mandate of “ensuring the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.” Equally importantly, we must also play a decisive role on the demand side of accountability like any Parliament by making sure that the AU and Member States take heed of the people’s voice and common interests in every programme, policy and collective decision. Doubtless, we can only effectively fulfil this function through our committees,” he added.
H.E Charumbira also disclosed that the Bureau is pleased with the progress made so far since they assumed office.
“I am pleased to report that the feedback we have been receiving about the PAP over the past eight months or so have been highly complementary. Speaking at the official opening of the PAP-PRC Retreat on 19 December 2022, the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Dr. Naledi Pandor, acknowledged the excellent work that has been done by the Pan African Parliament since June 2022 and declared that “there is no one who can sway my belief that the Bureau has made extensive efforts to bring back the Pan African Parliament to what it should be”.
“In the same vein, during the 45th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) held in January 2023, Ambassadors roundly acknowledged the rapid turnaround of the PAP and credited us with a “vibrancy” that had not been seen at the PAP in a long time. This huge vote of confidence from a previously hostile constituency is a reflection of the strides we have made in our transformative agenda. We must, therefore, applaud ourselves for this changing public perception which confirms that we have gone some way in “Reviving, Renewing, Repositioning and Reinvigorating the Pan African Parliament” in line with our avowed strategic thrust,” added H.E Charumbira.
He further urged the PAP Committees to have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that Member States and AU Organs are held to account for the commitments they make towards the implementation of AFCFTA - African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Committees must thus review their work plans to ensure that they include activities aimed at facilitating the accelerated implementation of the AFCFTA. However, before moving on to the 2023 Theme, Committees must also review what they did in the preceding year and the tangible outcome and impact of their activities in support of the 2022 Theme of the Year, “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent”. The lessons drawn from the preceding year should be harnessed in enhancing the effectiveness of our committees in fulfilling their mandate and driving the attainment of the 2023 Theme of the Year.”
Meanwhile, H.E. Charumbira also called for collaboration with other AU organs and regional and national parliaments.
“PAP must play its part in driving the attainment of Agenda 2063 and other AU Flagship Projects, among them, the Integrated High-Speed Train Network, Formulation of an African Commodities Strategy, Implementation of the Grand Inga Dam Project, Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market and the Great African Museum. Clearly, the dream of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena” requires all hands on deck. It is imperative, therefore, that our committees work with other AU Organs, national and regional Parliaments in pursuit of our mandate and driving the objectives of the Union.”