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

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Meeting report

20 AUGUST 2002
Chairperson: Ms F Ginwala (ANC)
These minutes provided by Committee Secretary, Mr M Xaso:
AT 09:30 IN V16


Speaker (Chairperson)
Deputy Speaker
Cassim, M F
Davies, R H
Eglin, C
Hajaig, F
Mars, I
Motubatse, D
Sithole, J
Turok, B
Van Wyk, A


Botha, C S

Apologies: Booi, M; Jordan, Z P; De Lange J H; Madasa, Z L; Seeco, S; Van der Merwe,
S C; Hajaig, F; Rajbally, S.

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

Adoption of Minutes of 31 July 2002
On the motion of Prof Turok, seconded by Ms Motubatse, the minutes were adopted.
Matters arising
The Speaker asked that a report on the meeting of African Parliaments be compiled and published in the ATC.

2.1 Research projects
The Speaker reported that Mr Peter Lilienfeld would be conducting research on (1) the rules of procedure in multinational legislatures and parliamentary forums and (2) assessing national parliamentary oversight over multinational organisations. Mr Lilienfeld still had to submit some information related to the terms of reference. Prof Haysom would be leading a research team dealing with the issues of sovereignty, constitutional, legal and policy questions. Regarding the research project on "developing a comprehensive strategy for public awareness and civil society involvement in AU", the EU had asked for a motivation on the choice of Mr P Govender as the researcher. On economic integration, the Speaker reported that she still needed to know more about the credentials of the lowest bidder, before the commissioning of research was finalized.

The terms of reference on the research projects to be circulated to members of the Working Group.

The Speaker raised concern about a report on the last meeting of the Working Group prepared by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. The report that appeared on the organizations website was inaccurate in many respects. The manner in which certain aspects of the proceedings were reported lacked insight into the subject matter. She indicated that she would be writing to the PMG about the matter.

2.2 Report of the Task Team on Increased Interaction among African Parliaments
Prof Turok presented the report on behalf of the Task Team. The report dealt with two issues, namely, strategies for igniting interest in AU matters and training/workshops for Parliamentarians. Mrs Van Wyk noted that it was important for the Executive to also receive training on the functioning of Parliament. She added that this kind of training could contribute towards improving relations between Parliament and the Executive. Ms Motubatse pointed out that while it was necessary for the Executive to receive training, such training should not be seen to be threatening to the Executive. The key objective of a training programme/workshop should be to assist members of Parliament to better understand their role in relation to the AU. The Speaker commented that the role of the Executive was implicit in the role of members of Parliament. She pointed out that Ministers as MPs were generally involved in Parliamentary Forums.

On the proposal by the Task Team that the South African delegation raise AU matters at the next IPU meeting in Geneva, the Speaker responded that it was important to utilize the opportunity presented by IPU meetings to discuss, among other things, IPU matters. She said that the matter would be followed up specifically in respect of the September 2002 IPU meeting.

The Speaker noted that the concept of workshops for MPs needed to be explored further. Prof Turok suggested that when these workshops were held, University faculties' of law should get involved as resource people. Mr Sithole suggested that in such workshops members of Parliament should remain the central figures and academics should participate purely as resource people.

Ms Botha suggested that efforts aimed at ensuring the ratification of the PAP Protocol by other Parliaments should precede the other activities e.g workshops. Mr Eglin emphasized the need to prioritise the ratification of the Protocol. In this regard, regional Parliamentary bodies should be asked to encourage member-states to ratify the Protocol.

The Task Team had proposed the following topic for a workshop/conference: Role and functions of Parliament in a multilateral and global context: Continent-wide law making and oversight roles and responsibilities. Mr Cassim stated that the understanding of the Task Team was that there was a need for one "idea generating" conference to take place. This conference would then be succeeded by various sessions and workshops on an ongoing basis. The Deputy Speaker expressed discomfort about the use of the term "multilateral" in the proposed topic, adding that it was necessary to be specific and focused in this regard. Regarding the proposed workshops, Mr Eglin commented that while academics would of necessity play an important role in such workshops, members of Parliament should nevertheless play a key role. He suggested the following topic: Role of national Parliaments in relation to the functioning of the African Union. The Speaker also pointed out that the topic proposed by the Task Team was too broad with many layers e.g law making, oversight roles and responsibilities, global context. She agreed that the proposed topic titled "Role of Parliaments in furthering the African Union" should be prioritised.

A conference/workshop be convened (possibly in 2003) to first address the role of National Parliaments in furthering the AU.
South Africa to put on the agenda of the SADC-PF plenary in November 2002 the issue of ratification of the PAP Protocol and the role of Parliaments in furthering the AU.
(c) Staff to prepare documents for presentation at the SADC-PF meeting.
Speaker to talk to Dr Jordan (member of the SADC-PF Executive) about the matter.
Staff to prepare documents for delegations to the next IPU meeting and CPA conferences.

The Speaker also mentioned that the Union of African Parliaments would be meeting in Sudan. The AU would be on the agenda of the meeting. A South African delegation would be attending the meeting as observers. There had been agreement that a senior delegation would attend the meeting.

Staff to prepare documents for the delegation to the meeting of the Union of African Parliaments in Sudan.

On the proposal of the Task Team for a day to be declared by Parliaments as "Africa Day",
the Speaker asked that the proposal be pursued in consultation with the Executive. She
pointed out that the Executive was also involved in a process of identifying a day for the
commemoration of the launch of the AU.

On the proposed training programme, the Speaker cautioned members against making assumptions about the Executive. Training should deal with the principles of democracy as an organized voice. Parliament's accountability to the citizenry should also be taken into account when drawing up training programmes. The issue of accountability ought to be taken as a whole and not be related only to the Executive. The Deputy Speaker added that South Africa should be sensitive when proposing issues like training. Although MPs from the continent have raised the need for training, this matter should be left to the individual Parliaments to raise it themselves. The Speaker stated that both regional and continental bodies should be prioritized with regard to fostering increased interaction among Parliaments.

The report of the Working Group to highlight the need for a conference/workshop of Parliaments e.g principles of democracy.
The idea of a conference also to be pursued at, inter alia, the SADC PF, regional forums, Africa Leadership Forum.
A seminar/workshop for SA MPs to be considered before the end of 2002.

2.3 Task Teams/Focus Groups

Referring to the decision of the last meeting of the Working Group to establish Task Teams, the Speaker pointed out that broadly there were two issues to be dealt with, namely, the AU (already in existence) and the PAP (still to come into being). She noted that there was a need to engage civil society on the AU and also consider the role of Parliaments in popularizing African Unity. With regard to the PAP the following issues need consideration: ratification of the Protocol, establishing the PAP at a functional level, conceptualizing the PAP, popular participation and empowerment of MPs in both PAP and AU matters. With regard to the AU, the following should be considered: implementation of the Constitutive Act, functioning of the 4 priority organs, general functioning of the AU. She noted that Parliament needed to make direct inputs on these issues to the Executive. South Africa, as the AU Chair, would need to take the lead in shaping the envisaged Pan African Parliament.

Prof Turok mentioned that there was a need for a paper dealing with the essence of Parliamentary democracy in Africa. Dr Davies commented that the key issues needing
attention were democracy and good governance. The question that arose was "what was meant within the African context with the concepts, democracy and good governance". It was necessary to link these concepts with the issues of development.
The following Task Teams to be established:
Task Team on the Implementation of the Constitutive Act of the AU
Functioning of 4 priority organs of the AU
Functioning of the AU
Libyan amendments and other amendments
Propose possible amendments for submission in Sirte
Task Team on the Pan African Parliament
Establishment (functionally) of the PAP
Conceptualizing the PAP
Popular participation
Empowerment of MPs
Hosting of PAP - practical implications
Task Team on Building African Unity
Civil Society involvement in AU
African Unity
Economic integration (unity)
Agreed further:
Task Teams to make specific proposals to the Working Group. In this regard Task Teams could also propose workshops, if these are deemed necessary.
Task Teams to focus on what South Africa could do.
Civil society to be incorporated in all the Task Teams.
Report of the Working Group to refer to the formation of the Task Teams.
Staff to do a framework/schedule for the functioning of the Task Teams.
Task Teams to nominate Conveners at the first meeting.

The Speaker mentioned that the NCOP and NA Working Groups would continue functioning separately. Notices of meetings should be sent to all the members serving on the Working Group, including NCOP members.

Next meeting of the Working Group to be scheduled for 3 September 2002.
The meeting to finalise the report of the Working Group and the establishment of the Task Teams.
The continuation of the Working Group be mentioned in the report.
Staff to draft the report and circulate it to members for consideration.

The meeting adjourned at 12:15.


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