The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) legislators have welcomed Resolutions and Recommendations submitted by the Civil Society Forum (CSF) following a progressive Parliamentary Dialogue held in Midrand, South Africa. However, the Recommendations and Resolutions are “subject to further discussions and deliberation by PAP Committees”.
The Parliamentary Dialogue was conducted at a time the PAP is hosting its ongoing Second Session of the Sixth parliament held under the 2023 AU theme, “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”. The CSF is a platform that aims at fostering closer collaboration between and among Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with PAP.
Submitting their Resolutions and Recommendations on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the CSF urged the PAP to use its mandate as the organ charged with driving speedy alignment and ratification of African Union (AU) treaties, and champion a ratification campaign in collaboration with their respective constituents, from whom they derive their direct authority, to ensure that the required ratifications are obtained to bring the Free Movement of Peoples Protocol into force by 2024.
They also called upon PAP to ensure that member states embrace the philosophy of free and safe movement of Africans within Africa, a principle enshrined in the integration aspirations, which remain as a distant reality for most African citizens, particularly women, children, youth and economically challenged people. The CSF also requested that the PAP support the Mandate of the High-Level Representative on Silencing the Guns in Africa and ensure that state compliance is adhered to and the principles and norms that aim to foster peace, security and sound democratic practice in Africa, particularly the implementation of the AACDEG are respected. It further appealed to PAP to use its moral authority as an advisory, and lead by example, in ensuring that the trend term elongation and constitutional tampering is halted at national levels.
Officially Opening the Parliamentary Dialogue, PAP’s 4th Vice President Hon. Francois Ango Ndoutoume encouraged the CSOs to help build a better developed Continent. “Africa is for all of us; we need to build it together. We will always embrace and welcome the CSOs which are not used by external forces. We need civil society to always adhere to constitutionalism. We also want you as civil society to always come up with viable programmes for our communities that will help us shape a better Africa,” he emphasised.
Hon. Pemmy Majodina who presided over the Questions, Comments and Observations from the Participants session expressed satisfaction with the hardwork and commitment displayed by the Forum.
“We welcome and appreciate all your efforts you have put as the Civil Society to this stage. But as the PAP legislators we are taking your submissions for further deliberations. Your submissions will be handed over to our committees where discussions and deliberations will be done. We need to pull together if we want to develop our continent.”
Addressing the delegates, Ms Bonolo Magkale, Programme Manager, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and Convener of the PAP Civil Society Forum said the PAP plays a significant role as a body representing African people.
“However, PAP faces various challenges in fulfilling its mandate. Limited legislative powers and resources hinder its effectiveness. To overcome these obstacles, it is crucial for member states to empower PAP by providing it with the necessary resources, granting it legislative authority, and fully implementing its decisions.
“Additionally, strengthening the relationship between the PAP and CSOs is vital. Collaboration between these two actors can amplify their impact and drive positive change. PAP should actively engage with CSOs, recognising their expertise and leveraging their knowledge to inform legislative processes,” she highlighted. Bonolo added that one of the ways in which the PAP has worked towards engaging with CSOs is through the establishment of the PAP CSO Forum, underscoring that the Forum continues to grow and to work towards increasing the visibility of PAP and fulfilling the vision of an integrated Africa.