Committee Report on Seminar on African Union

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Meeting report

7 MARCH 2002

Chairperson: Ms F Ginwala (ANC)

These minutes provided by Committee Secretary:





(National Assembly) (NCOP)

Speaker (Chairperson) Mathee, P A (NNP)

Deputy Speaker

Cassim, F (IFP)

Davies, R H (ANC)

Eglin, C W (DP)

Geldenhuys, B L (NNP)

Hajaig, F (ANC)

Apologies: Makanda W G (UDM)


Staff in attendance: Tsholetsane, M (Parliamentary Law Advice office); Jenkins, F (Parliamentary Law Advice office); Gabriel, L (Information Services Section); Xaso, M (NA Table).

1. Introduction

The Speaker reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed her that the Protocol on the Pan African Parliament had not yet been signed. A meeting of Ministers in Addis Abbaba, where the signing was likely to happen, would take place towards the end of March 2002. The Speaker would write to the Minister of Foreign Affairs requesting that the Protocol be tabled in Parliament as soon as it was signed. The Protocol was still part of the AEC treaty and it would require a decision of the Assembly to change that. Parliament should therefore consider recommending that, as soon as possible, the Assembly recognize the Pan African Parliament as one of the organs of the African Union.

 2. Debate on the African Union

The Speaker reported that the debate on the African Union had been scheduled for Tuesday, 12 March 2002 for ninety minutes.

3. Deliberations on the report of the Working Group

The Working Group discussed the structure and contents of the report. Dr Geldenhuys suggested that the report should briefly reflect the activities of the Working Group and the recommendations of each commission. The Speaker explained that each of the recommendations had a background to it, which should be included in the report. She asked that the report be re-arranged to reflect the different themes and not the individual commissions. She also indicated that the report on the commission on legal implications was inconsistent and inaccurate in some respects. She requested the respective chairpersons of the commissions to review the recommendations and effect changes, where necessary. She also clarified that the commission on legal implications had recommended that the Working Group should continue with deliberations on the African Union and that, where necessary, task teams be established. The final report of the Working Group should cover the fact that there was a seminar, the issues discussed and then the recommendations. It should also contain a brief introduction on the work of the Working Group leading to the seminar. Dr Davies mentioned that the report on the commission on economic and financial implications did not capture the thrust of the discussion and supported the view that chairpersons of the commissions review the recommendations. He indicated that he had revised the report and highlighted the key recommendations. Dr Geldenhuys reported that in general the report on the commission on political implications was accurate except for one important word that had been omitted, thereby changing the meaning of the paragraph. Mr Cassim indicated that he had not been able to consider the recommendations of the commission on social implications.

Mr Eglin asked whether it was not possible to distribute the seminar report to members without amendments. The Speaker explained that the Working Group and not the seminar had been asked to make recommendations to the House.

The Deputy Speaker added that the report should be from the Working Group, taking into account the seminar deliberations. The seminar was meant to assist the Working Group and members in general to gain a better understanding of the African Union.

Mr Eglin suggested that in view of the explanation given by the Deputy Speaker, an interim seminar report should be produced to assist members to prepare for the debate on the African Union. The Speaker replied that the seminar report itself was inaccurate and could not be published before it was reviewed. It was agreed that an interim report of the Working Group should be tabled and a further report be tabled before the end of the current Parliamentary term. The interim report would cover the activities of the Working Group together with some recommendations, including the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs should be requested to sign the Pan African Parliament Protocol and table it in Parliament. The report should also state that Parliament had been advised of an inter-ministerial committee on the AU and that a meeting with some members of the inter-ministerial committee took place on 28 February 2001.The Deputy Speaker proposed that the report should also state whether or not task teams would be established. The Speaker replied that it was implicit in the House resolution establishing the Working Group that if the need for task teams was identified, then these could be established. Mr Eglin proposed that the interim report should also state the desirability of an ongoing relationship between Parliament and the Executive including a request for a response to issues emanating from previous committee reports to Parliament. The Speaker agreed and added that the contents of the second report of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs to Parliament on 27 February 2001 would be reaffirmed in the report. She proposed that, in the absence of a comprehensive report, the debate on 12 March should be on the African Union in general, with no particular focus on the AU seminar.

4. The Pan African Protocol

Mr Eglin asked whether the Assembly of the AU had to first approve the Protocol by a two-thirds majority or that the individual member states had to approve it, before it was ratified. The Speaker replied that the last Assembly had approved the Protocol, at the same time making an amendment. The draft had not yet

been confirmed as the official OAU version. The Protocol would not be resubmitted to the Assembly but member states must still sign it, before it was ratified. Once the text of the Protocol was obtained, it would be circulated to members of the Working Group.

5. Conclusion

The Speaker indicated that she would try to convene a further meeting with the inter-ministerial committee before the recess.

The meeting adjourned at 16:55.


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