Draft Minutes of the Meeting of the Working Group on the African Union

Working Group on African Union

02 September 2002
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Meeting report

WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION
3 SEPTEMBER 2002
Chairperson: Ms F Ginwala (ANC)
These minutes provided by Committee Secretary, Mr M Xaso:
DRAFT MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION HELD ON 3 SEPTEMBER 2002 AT 09:30 IN E305

Present:

Speaker (Chairperson)
Deputy Speaker
Cassim, M F
Davies, R H
Eglin, C
Geldenhuys, B L
Hajaig, F
Madasa, Z L
Mars, I
Turok, B
Van Wyk, A

NCOP

Mathee, A

Apologies: Sithole, J; and Rajbally, S; Jordan, Z P; De Lange J H.

Staff in attendance: Gabriel, L (Information Services Section); Nazeema, A (Research Unit); Xaso, M (NA Table); Adonis, J (NA Table); Vassen, M (Speaker's Office).

Introduction
The Speaker reported that she had received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicating that the instrument of ratification on the PAP Protocol had been deposited with the Secretary-General of the African Union. She added that she had asked the Minister to keep her informed on the establishment of the representative Steering Committee of Parliamentarians that would be looking into the aspects of early ratification and the establishment of the Pan African Parliament. The Working Group should consider making inputs on the composition of the proposed Steering Committee.

Mr Eglin suggested a report back session on the inauguration of the African Union by either the Minister or Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Agreed:
Speaker to invite the Executive to give a report back on the inauguration of the African Union.

2. Adoption of Minutes of 20 August 2002
Prof Turok indicated that on page 4, paragraph 2.3 (Task Teams), the first sentence of
the second paragraph should read: Prof Turok mentioned that there was a need for a
paper dealing with the experience and practices rather than the essence of Parliamentary
democracy in Africa. After this was corrected, the minutes were adopted.

Matters arising from the minutes of 20 August 2002

3.1 Research projects
Dr Gabriel reported that the three projects to be dealt with by Prof Haysom had been combined into one project. A funding application for the project had been submitted to the EU Parliamentary Support Programme. The project on "developing a comprehensive strategy for public awareness and civil society involvement in AU" had been approved. The project on "economic integration" had been awarded to the HSRC. The Speaker explained that none of the proposals on economic integration were perfect. Prof Turok indicated that he thought the Africa Institute understood much better the issue of economic integration, adding that the two organizations could work together on the project. The Speaker replied that the Africa Institute's application was superficial. She indicated that she would talk to the HSRC to investigate the possibility of the two organizations working together on the project. She expressed concern about the lack of empowerment of black researchers within the HSRC. Dr Davies suggested a meeting between the HSRC and the "reference group" before the Council could embark on the project.

Agreed:
Speaker to discuss with the HSRC the possible involvement of the Africa Institute in the research project.
The HSRC to meet with the reference group before embarking on the research project (Date to be determined).

3.2 Meeting of the Union of African Parliaments
The Speaker reported that Mr Mushwana would be attending the meeting with two or three other members. The Deputy Speaker pointed out that the Secretary-General of the Union of African Parliaments had expressed reservations about the establishment of the Pan African Parliament. The Speaker mentioned that there was a particular view, in some quarters, that there needed to be a longer interim period for the transition from the OAU to the AU. SADC's position was that once the Pan African Parliament was established, it would be necessary to consider whether there was a need for a separate Union of African Parliaments. This question would need to be considered further. The SADC PF had, in vain, repeatedly invited the Secretary-General of the Union of African Parliaments for him to explain his organisation's position. The Speaker pointed out that the Prime Minister of Ethiopia was strongly in support of the establishment of the Pan African Parliament.



4. Finalisation of Task Teams
The Speaker indicated that she would not chair any of the Task Teams, but would try to assist all of them. The Task Teams would organize their work and appoint deputy chairpersons, if necessary. She made the following nominations re chairpersons of Task Teams:
Implementation of the Constitutive Act of the AU - Deputy Speaker
Pan African Parliament - Mr M F Cassim
Building the African Unity - Dr R Davies

4.1 Task Team on the Implementation of the Constitutive Act
The Task Team on the Implementation of the Constitutive Act should also cover the "establishment and functioning of the AU". There were indications that Libya would be tabling further amendments. The Speaker indicated that she would ask the Presidency to make available to Parliament any proposed amendments by South Africa. The Working Group should also consider proposing amendments. Mr Eglin enquired about the role of Parliament in dealing with proposed amendments to the Constitutive Act. The Speaker replied that the Working Group had to consider proposed amendments with a view to advising the Executive. In this regard, the Working Group would need to interact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency. Dr Davies suggested that the Working Group should consider a meeting with the Executive on the issue of amendments at an early stage. The purpose of the meeting would be to clarify, among other things, issues that need to be prioritized in considering the amendments. The Speaker explained that the initial view had been that it was still too early to start amending the Act, however, since other countries were already tabling amendments, it would make sense for South Africa to propose amendments. She clarified that it was the responsibility of the Executive to bring proposed amendments to the attention of the African Union. If aspects that needed amendments were identified, a submission on the matter could be done at Sirte in Libya in six months time. She added that amendments could, for instance, be proposed on the issue of a "quorum" in the Assembly. The Task Teams should first identify the issues that need attention and then deal with how those could be dealt with.

Agreed:
Executive to be invited to brief the Working Group on proposed amendments to the Constitutive Act.
Speaker to ask the Presidency to make available to Parliament any proposed amendments by South Africa.

4.2 Task Team on Pan African Parliament
The Speaker asked that the Task Team should also deal with the "powers and structures" of the Pan African Parliament. The outcome of the research project on the "rules of procedure in multinational legislatures and parliamentary forums" would have to be incorporated in the work of the Task Team. The approach of the Working Group on proposals for the hosting of the PAP should be positive rather than negative. Responding to a question on whether there was a procedure in place regarding the hosting of AU organs, the Speaker explained that there was no specific procedure on this issue, however, the idea was that the organs should be located in the five regions of the continent. The host country would have to provide the infrastructure. The Parliament, for instance, would need a core structure and staff. However, its meetings could be held at different venues.
Agreed:
Task Team on the PAP to also consider the implications for hosting the Pan African Parliament.
Staff to get involved in the Task Team on PAP to assist with the technical aspects (e.g structures and administrative processes)

4.3 Task Team on Building the African Union
The Speaker stated that building the African Union would also involve the working together of African Parliaments, the other organs of the AU and the involvement of civil society.
Mr Eglin indicated that he would serve on this Task Team. The Speaker mentioned that the membership of the Task Teams would be open to all members who wanted to participate, however, members would have to be consistent in their attendance.

Agreed (Task Teams in general):
Task Teams to report at the next meeting of the Working Group on 25 September 2002.
Staff to invite NCOP members to meetings of the Task Teams.
Staff to circulate membership register of Task Teams to all the political parties.
All Task Teams to consider the involvement of civil society in AU.

5. Fifth Draft Report of the Working Group
Dr Davies raised the need to clarify with the Executive which of the organs (PAP/Central Bank) of the AU South Africa would want to host. The draft report was discussed and the final copy is attached.
Agreed:
Tabling of the Report to be delayed until the end of the week of 9 September 2002 (Presiding Officers to consult with the Executive re hosting of AU organ (PAP/Central Bank))
Working Group to make inputs on the composition of the proposed Steering Committee.

Once the report is tabled:
Speaker to write to the SADC PF regarding the proposed conference/workshop of Parliaments (2003).
Speaker to approach the UNDP regarding possible funding for the conference/workshop.

6. Continuation of the Working Group
The Deputy Speaker raised the need for the Working Group to discuss the question of parliamentary structures in view of the African Union. The Speaker mentioned that the issue of whether the Working Group should continue to deal with AU matters had previously been raised in the Rules Committee.

Agreed
:
Agenda for the next meeting of the Working Group to include "consideration of AU matters within Parliament" (eg continuation of Working Group).
The Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs to be informed that the Working Group would be discussing the matter in the next meeting.

7. Protocol on Peace and Security
The Speaker mentioned that she would informally request the Minister of Foreign
Affairs to table the Protocol on Peace and Security Council of the AU.
Agreed:
When tabled, the Protocol to be referred to different committees.

8. Report of the Task Team on Increased Interaction among Parliaments
Mr Cassim presented the report on behalf of the Task Team. He mentioned that the question of ratification of the Protocol could be followed up by MPs who have friendly relations with other MPs in the rest of Africa. The Speaker suggested that the report should state that the Working Group should ensure that the issue of ratification was followed up within the SADC PF, rather than the Speaker having to specifically write to the Speaker of Malawi. The Deputy Speaker asked for explanation on the suggestion in the report that Speakers of selected African Parliaments be invited to South Africa. Mr Cassim replied that Parliament should act on reciprocity. Consideration could also be given on who would be very important to invite. Other people could be invited by virtue of their regional importance. The Speaker suggested that Parliaments, rather than Speakers, should be considered for invitation. The Deputy Speaker pointed out that the matter of invitations to Parliaments would need to be dealt with further at an appropriate level. Principles that should guide the selection process should be clarified. Mr Eglin expressed the view that the issue of inviting Parliaments could be dealt with more appropriately within a parliamentary forum (eg SADC PF). Dr Davies suggested that the Department of Foreign Affairs could be asked to identify a leading force on AU matters in different Parliaments. The identified person or structure could then be prioritized. The Speaker reported that she had written to the Secretary-General of the SADC PF asking that the issue of ratification of the Protocol be placed on the agenda of the next plenary meeting. The matter of ratification of the Protocol should also be discussed by the Africa Group at the next IPU Council meeting. The Deputy Speaker added that it was important to discuss AU matters at the IPU, especially in the context of South Africa being the Chair of the African Union.

The Speaker mentioned that a Parliamentarian's Forum would be taking place in Benin in September. Some of the ACP countries had also been invited to the meeting. If the meeting was finally taking place, a South African delegation would be sent. However, an invitation was still awaited.

Regarding the proposed conference of African Parliaments in 2003, Prof Turok explained that the original idea was for a meeting with experts to discuss the "functioning of a Parliament and its contribution to parliamentary democracy". Dr Davies mentioned that national Parliaments would have a role to play in the evolution of the African Union. The role of these Parliaments within the PAP should be clarified. Mr Eglin suggested the following topic for the conference: Role of national Parliaments in relation to the functioning of the African Union and the establishment of a Pan African Parliament.

The Speaker clarified that, first, it was important to establish how National Parliaments would exercise oversight over agreements that the Executives are going to enter into in the context of the AU. Second, the role of national Parliaments in furthering the African Union should be clarified. Third, the role of the PAP in exercising oversight over AU structures would also need to be dealt with.

Prof Turok commented that the notion of discussing the systems of parliamentary practices was fundamental in the evolution of the PAP. Mrs Van Wyk stated that if the intention was for the African Union and the Pan African Parliament to function effectively, the oversight capacity of the individual Parliaments would need to be strengthened.

Regarding public participation, the Deputy Speaker raised the need for a public debate on the AU and the PAP. Dr Davies expressed concern that the PAP was probably one of the least interesting issues among the public at present. The Speaker mentioned that a major campaign on the PAP would need to be launched if South Africa decided to host it. She pointed out that there was a difference between the involvement of civil society in informing public representatives and core governance, adding that there was a need to engage in debates on these issues.

Prof Turok enquired about progress in establishing an AU Desk within Parliament. Dr Gabriel reported that the Information Services Section was planning to convert the National Assembly Reading Room into an Africa Centre/Desk. The Library would develop a specific collection on African issues for this facility. Mr Eglin indicated that the Africa Institute seemed anxious to assist the Working Group with information. The Speaker replied that the South African Institute for International Relations, the Institute for Global Dialogue as well as the Africa Institute were all keen to assist the Working Group. However, there was an urgent need for information within Parliament, hence the idea of an Africa Desk.

Agreed:
Task Team on PAP to refine the topic of the proposed "conference of Parliaments" in 2003.
Working Group to await overall strategy (research project) on public participation before taking the matter forward.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30.

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