The message of unity that has characterised the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) since the election of the new leadership in June 2022 was taken to the global stage when H.E. Chief Fortune Z. Charumbira addressed the 17th Session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Member States Conference (PUIC) as the Guest of Honour.
The invitation for the President of the PAP to address the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) is a testament to how the Legislative arm of the African Union (AU) has successfully positioned itself as a key player in the strengthening of continental solidarity, cooperation and development; promotion of peace, security and stability; and pursuit of prosperity for all peoples.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. Of the 54 member parliaments of the PUIC, 27 are African countries and members of the PAP.
“We are one,” H.E. Chief Charumbira reminded the audience as he described how both the PAP and the PUIC are driven by a shared purpose to foster coordination among peoples of the world in order to respect and defend human rights and humanitarian principles and establishment of peace, based on justice. “Let us move forward with a common agenda to strengthen our unity and tackle our common challenges. We need to engage further and craft a practical roadmap” he added.
The President touted collaboration with the PUIC on food security, climate change, peace and security among others. The President of Africa’s largest Parliamentary institution also seized the opportunity of his first address to the PUIC to convey that the Parliament of Africa stands with the Islamic world against islamophobia.
The President of the PAP condemned attacks on Islamic assets, institutions and principles. Specifically, the President expressed his strong condemnation of the burning of the Holy Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. In doing so, he denounced the hypocrisy of the Western world and its selective approach to issues of human rights.
The leader of the Continental Parliament called out Europe for lecturing the world on issues of human rights while remaining silent on the burning of the Quran and other violations of the Islamic faith. He questioned the West’s commitment to human rights as he also denounced their involvement in destabilising certain parts of the African continent with rich soils. We should unite to reject this intolerance and hypocrisy. Religion is a human right and Islam must be protected. “We can no longer accept being imposed western principles while ours are ignored by them,” said H.E. Charumbira.
On the issue of Palestine, the PAP President further affirmed that Africa’s Parliamentary body stands firmly with Palestine and its people. “We have regularly provided a platform for Palestinian representatives during our Sessions to provide feedback to African Parliamentarians and we discuss a way forward.” In 2017, the PAP unanimously adopted a motion to grant the Palestinian National Council an observer member status.
Finally, the PAP President lauded Algeria, host of the 17th Session of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States Conference, for its active role in supporting liberation and decolonization movements in Africa.
“Algeria is a country with a great history as a liberator of the continent of Africa. As a Zimbabwean, I can attest to the economic and military support we received from Algeria. We will never forget Algeria’s historical role,” said Chief Charumbira.
The President of the PAP has identified inter-parliamentary relations and diplomacy as a cornerstone of the strategy to enhance the visibility of the Parliament he leads. As part of its objectives, the PAP is called upon to cooperate with National and Regional Parliaments and similar bodies within and outside Africa.
H.E. Chief Charumbira delivered a message of solidarity to the opening of the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament in November 2022. He also addressed the inaugural “Euro- Mediterranean and Gulf Economic Forum” organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and hosted by the House of Councillors of the Kingdom of Morocco in December 2022. The President is further expected as Guest of Honour in Cairo, Egypt on 11 February when the Arab Parliament convenes for its meeting.