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WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION
25 June 2002
MEETING OF AFRICAN PARLIAMENTS
Chairperson: Ms F Ginwala (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Report of the Renaissance South Africa Outreach Programme: Continental Experts' Meeting on the NEPAD and the African Union
Draft Programme: Meeting of African Parliaments
Official AU website: http://www.AU2002.gov.za
The Working Group discussed matters relating to the upcoming meeting of African Parliaments. Twenty-four parliaments from the continent would be participating. The object of the meeting was to familiarise these Parliaments with the Pan-African Parliament and related organs of the AU as well as to stimulate discussion on the role the Parliament would play.
The Deputy Speaker asked for a motion for the adoption of the minutes of the 19 and 20 June. The minutes were adopted and she inquired if there were matters arising out of the minutes that had not been covered by the second report.
Mr Eglin (DP) questioned what the composition of the South African delegation would be.
Prof Turok (ANC) reported back on the Continental Experts meeting held in Pretoria. He had spoken to various people and in particular the HSRC had suggesting forming a sort of advisory group as they had an interest in the whole of Africa and would like to participate in the process. He had drawn up a list of interested organisations and there was a great deal of interest and potential.
The Speaker replied that it was difficult, as Parliament did not have the resources. She agreed that there was a need to stimulate and thereafter allow organisations to take things further on an on-going basis.
Meeting of African Parliaments
Ms Pandor (ANC), Speaker of the NCOP, said that they were proceeding with arrangements. Thus far, 24 countries had agreed to participate. An attempt was being made to provide both opportunities to consider broad perspectives of the Pan-African Parliament and a discussion amongst the parliaments on how they thought the process should unfold. Inputs would come from both outside and inside the parliamentary perspective and in terms of African unity.
In terms of participation, the presiding officers as well as four Members of Parliament had been invited from each country. With respect to the South African delegation, she proposed that it be composed of the two presiding officers and three members and that the names of alternate members be submitted so that they would have the opportunity to give input and present in the plenary. Any Member of Parliament may also be present in the gallery.
The Speaker read through the names of those countries that had responded. She noted that Madagascar would be attending. Although the OAU had severed ties with both its Presidents, the election of the Parliament had predated the dispute.
Mr Eglin questioned why so few francophone countries would be attending.
Ms Pandor replied that several francophone countries had responded. However, a significant number would not be attending due to national and local government elections.
The Speaker suggested that the matter be followed up with the embassies. She stated that the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs would not be at the meeting, as they would be attending the G8 meeting in Canada. Dr Skweyiya: Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, would be addressing the meeting. The Office of the Presidency would be writing his speech. The keynote speaker would be the Egyptian Speaker, who was probably the most senior Speaker on the continent.
She said that the first session would be centred on the presentation and discussion so as to familiarise the Parliaments with the Pan-African Parliament. The idea was to present the background and organs etc. of the African Union. South Africa would be putting forward a proposal for a Peace and Security Council. The meeting would be broken up into smaller chambers, as these would be more translation friendly. Discussions would be held on the Pan-African Parliament and the regional parliamentary formations. Three papers had been received from Egypt on each of the three main topics.
Mr Eglin (DP) raised several questions relating to the relationship between regional and national Parliament, NEPAD and national Parliaments, informing Parliaments and civil society and the role that the South African Parliament had to play in relation to the AU.
The Speaker responded that these were issues that were intended to come out in the fourth session of the meeting, however she agreed with Mr Eglin that there was a need to make the programme more overt.
Mr Eglin suggested that, while there would be the five person South African delegation, other Members should be encouraged to join and there would be room in the chamber. The Speaker agreed.
Ms Motubatse (ANC) asked if there had been any progress with regard to inviting provincial legislatures.
Ms Pandor replied that all provincial legislatures had been written to but no reply had been received, except a telephonic acceptance from the Gauteng Speaker.
She suggested that those Working Group members who were not member of the delegation be submitted as alternates and felt that if South Africa went beyond that the result would be a South African contingent that was too big.
The Speaker felt that there was also a need to include the Foreign Affairs Committees of both Houses. She continued that there would be a civil society meeting on the 1st and 2nd of July 2002 and suggested that parliament send a number of people to the meeting. The programme of the meeting would be very AU and NEPAD oriented but that there would be a session on the Pan-African Parliament.
Mr Eglin, referring to the upcoming AU Summit meeting, was of the opinion that as the host country, the South African Parliament should be able to send representatives as accredited observers.
The Speaker explained that there was a difference between what ought to be and international practice. Parliament was working on trying to attend the round table sessions but no response had been received. She said that even the fact that the media was allowed to be present was innovative as meetings were usually held behind closed doors.
The meeting was adjourned.
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