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Pan African Parliament marks return to full processes of the AU

PAP leadership at the African Union

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP), led by its President, H.E Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira has arrived at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for preparatory meetings related to the 42nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (Ministerial Session) and the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly (Heads of State and Government Session), scheduled to take place from 15-19 February 2023.

As the first order of business, the PAP was invited to make a presentation to the 45th Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) on Monday. The exercise marked the return of the continental Parliament to a full process of the AU Summit following a two-year hiatus. The AU Summit is comprised of different phases ahead of the meeting of Heads of State and Government. Indeed, the process begins with a meeting of the PRC to prepare the work of the Executive Council, which in turn prepares the Assembly session agendas and drafts decisions for its consideration.

In this regard, H.E Hon. Chief Charumbira, President of the PAP, addressed African Ambassadors accredited to the AU on the Performance Report of the PAP for the year 2022 as well as recommendations of the PAP-PRC Retreat held in December 2022. From the onset, the PAP President expressed gratitude to the PRC Chairperson and the entire PRC membership for a productive Retreat.

The PAP and the PRC met in Johannesburg on 19 and 20 December 2022 to reflect on the challenges affecting the effective exercise by the PAP of its mandate within the AU institutional architecture. The Retreat, three years in the making, concluded with both parties pledging to work towards a framework for effective institutional collaboration. A commitment was also made to provide a platform for the PAP to deliver a presentation on its mandate and the financial requirements thereof. Both parties planned then to finalise recommendations emanating from the Retreat in January 2023.

The proposed recommendations covered various aspects including financial and administrative support to the PAP and the legal status of Members of Parliament. The Retreat also extensively engaged in the core business, institutional legal framework and deliverables of the PAP with a view to ensuring increased participation of African citizens and civil society, as well as the African diaspora in the affairs of the Union.

The leader of the legislative arm of the AU seized the opportunity to reiterate the call for more resources to be allocated to the PAP to enable it to effectively deliver on its prerogatives. He also shared more information on the mandate of the institution and key achievements thus far.

“The purpose of my presentation is to continue to share information between PAP and the PRC that will enhance our collaboration, strengthen our outputs from the Retreat and present some of the urgent issues which are militating against our effectiveness for your support. These include, but are not limited to, the dire financial situation at PAP, the delay in staff recruitment, and the legal status and conditions of service of MPs, among others. For the benefit of those who might not have been at the Retreat, we believe we should also share information on the PAP’s mandate and some of the tangible results that PAP has achieved in fulfilling its mandate to engender a better appreciation of what we do and why we do it,” H.E Hon. Charumbira told the PRC.

The PAP President explained that the PAP had opted to present a Performance Report which is a transition from the traditional “Activity Report”. According to H.E Hon. Charumbira, the Performance Report looks at tangible achievements, assesses performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and sets goals for future performance. The Report presented to the PRC provided an overview of the activities undertaken by the PAP since the elective session in June 2022, the results achieved, and the challenges faced by the institution in the execution of its results.

The presentation by the PAP was well received by members of the PRC, in what continues to be a resounding vote of confidence in Parliament since the election of the new Bureau in June 2022. Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Mauritania, Morocco, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda are among the countries whose representatives reiterated support for the PAP and congratulated its Bureau for rebuilding the image of the institution, resulting in a reinvigorated Parliament.

Ambassador Lamine Thiaw, Chairperson of the PRC indicated that Committee has taken note of the PAP’s report and would recommend that the Executive Council approve the conclusions of the Joint PAP-PRC Retreat and that recommendations bearing financial, legal and structural implications be referred to the competent PRC Sub-committees for expeditious examination.

Ambassador Thiaw further ruled that the PRC would recommend that the Executive Council congratulate the PAP for returning to full functionality following the June 2022 elections under the leadership of H.E Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira and the Bureau. The draft decisions to be tabled to the Council are also expected to include a request for the PAP to continue the positive trajectory it has undertaken and to prioritise dialogue and consensus in resolving arising issues. Additionally, the critical role of the PAP in connecting the AU to the African citizenry and promoting the continental agenda will be highlighted as part of the proposed decisions.

“The PRC recommends that the PAP be requested to improve working relations with the PRC and the AU Commission. This is in the spirit of the Recommendations of the Joint PAP-PRC Retreat. Finally, the PRC will propose that the Council calls on Member States that have not done so to sign and ratify the Malabo Protocol to enable the PAP to fully play its role,” said Ambassador Thiaw.

In his concluding remarks, the President of the PAP thanked the PRC for the positive feedback and urged Ambassadors to ensure that subsequent consultations at the sub-committee level to resolve outstanding matters are convened timeously to ensure that the PAP gets on with the business of the people in 2023.

“I assure you that the PAP that you are seeing today is on an accelerated transformative trajectory focused on repairing its image, reintegrating seamlessly into the AU family, reinvigorating its operations with renewed impetus, and delivering tangible results that meet and exceed the expectations of the African citizenry. We remain unwavering in our focus on delivering results that benefit the people and we appeal to you to walk hand in hand with us on this challenging journey. Together, we can deliver the Africa We Want,” concluded H.E Hon. Charumbira who is currently in Addis Ababa with other members of the Bureau.

The 45th Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) is being held until 27 January 2023.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende