Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union; Seminar on Pan-African Parliament

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

1 April 2003

Chairperson: Dr F Ginwala (Speaker, National Assembly)

Documents Handed Out:
Draft Agenda: Seminar on the Pan-African Parliament


Speaker (Chairperson)
Deputy Speaker
Bapela, O
Cassim, M F
Mbuyazi, L R
Mtsweni, N S
Rajbally, S
Seremane, J
Vilakazi, J N (NCOP)

Apologies: Geldenhuys, B L; Davies, R H; Motubatse, M D; Jordan, Z P; Mars, I.

Staff in attendance: Jenkins, F (Parliamentary Law Advice Office); Xaso, M (NA Table); Mohlomi, N (NA Table); Lenzie D (Parliamentary Law Office); Gabriel, L (Information Services Unit).

The Working Group on African Union discussed two issues, the Protocol relating to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, and the proposal on a Seminar for the Pan-African Parliament. Relating to the latter, the Group decided on a strategy for inviting other member countries who had already ratified the Protocol Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Protocol).


Protocol relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union
The Chair stated that the Working Group's mandate was to attend to the human security aspect in the Protocol. She undertook to draft a report for circulation, for integration with the report by the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs (the Department) on the issue. Since the report was quite an important one, she felt that it necessitated debate.

Seminar on the Pan-African Parliament
On a planned seminar on the Pan-African Parliament in May 2003, the Chairperson stated the need to request the AU to inform those countries that had ratified, of the Seminar. In designing an agenda for the Seminar, the Committee needed to determine and communicate its objectives for calling the meeting. These objectives should then be effectively communicated to the member countries and interested bodies or structures, in an invitation to attend the Seminar. The Chair said that it was important for this meeting to take place, to assist in pushing forward and strengthening the ratification of the AU protocols. She added that there were those countries who felt left out of deliberations, and this seminar would attempt to ensure the participation from all parties who felt marginalised.

The Chairperson continued that, through using the Seminar as a medium, the African Union countries would attempt to build up a common, collective vision for the PAP. Deliberations would determine the potential of the PAP for oversight on the Continent. The ideas supplied in research by Mr P Lilienfeld on the rules and oversight of the PAP over the AU Assembly, could be discussed.

Prof B Turok (ANC) stated that the process had two elements, namely,
- the legal-formal element, and
- the element of vision-forming, to drive the momentum of the political process
He suggested communicating to those countries which had ratified, that the seminar would address the second stage of the process, in order to build the AU's momentum, and so create interest. He added that those countries who had ratified, were aware of a continental desire to evoke and maintain this momentum. Furthermore, he felt that civil society should be represented at the Seminar.

Mr F Cassim (IFP) stated that he liked the use of the word 'continental'. If the Seminar were termed as a 'Continental' drive, he felt the Committee would have a recipe for success. The agenda should highlight the methods that would be used to bring people together. He agreed that including civil society representatives at the Seminar, was a good idea, as they had always "added value" to proceedings, and had never detracted from the processes in question.

The Chairperson asked if all were in agreement with Prof Turok's suggestion of presenting the objective of the Seminar, as building momentum for the vision within the African Union. All were in agreement.

On engaging civil society, the Chairperson confirmed that, in building a common vision, civil society must have an input. However, in the context of the PAP, she asked the Committee to consider discussing the role of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) in relation to the PAP at the Seminar.

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that they had already agreed to invite the members of parliamentary structures. She added that, among others, an invitation should be sent to the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to send a delegation to the meeting.

Mr Cassim referred to the draft agenda for the Seminar, making special reference to the items under Session 1. "Understanding the Protocol", and "Implications for National Parliaments" were items that had already been dealt with. In bringing these items onto the agenda for discussion, he felt the Committee would only be "marking time". He felt they should try to move the process forward, looking ahead to strategy implementation.

The Chairperson stated that the implications with the items were very clear. Even though Mr Cassim felt they would be going over old issues, some of those issues had not yet been dealt with, such as what the functions of the national parliament would be. She suggested, given what they had to work with, putting forward an annotative agenda.

Mr J Sithole (ANC) enquired about progress on the establishment of a committee of Parliamentarians to promote ratification of the PAP Protocol.

The Chairperson stated that the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Parliament of South Africa were pushing the establishment of that group. They had proposed that a Minister and a Speaker from each of the five regions of the continent, to gather their support for the PAP Protocols, and secure ratification thereof. Within the Southern Africa region, the delegation would go to the SADC countries. She advised the Committee to encourage the Executive to go ahead with these plans. If by time of the May Seminar they had not moved on the establishment of the group, the Committee could consider taking action.

Mr Cassim suggested that the Committee consider using the meetings of the African Group at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference to make its objectives known.

With further reference to civil society activities, the Chairperson informed the Committee of two networks that were scheduled to be launched in May. These were:
- the Civil Society on Human Security, which would be presented to Mr Kofi Annan in the second week of May. Immediately after its formal presentation, there will be a meeting of civil societies, which some of the Committee members are expected to attend:
- a network initiated in Ghana, at the NEPAD meeting of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA), where the desire was expressed that Africans should come together to consider NEPAD.

The Chairperson cautioned that it was questionable whether the country could sustain another very large African civil society meeting.

Mr Cassim suggested inviting people who would be in a position to spread information (such as journalists and other writers), as they would be able to add value to the event. If foreign journalists could be attracted, an enormous amount of information could be disseminated throughout Africa.

Prof Turok stated that the civil society sector is very wide. He felt it was important to break the wall that had arisen between the NGO sector and Government. He suggested inviting those groups who did not have only their own interests in mind. Church groups, for instance, were extremely important. Parliamentarians should attend the Seminar, as well.

At this point, the Chairperson invited Mr Sithole to share his experiences at the GCA meeting in Ghana. He responded as follows.

It was obvious that the communication of information was problematic, by the level of understanding of the objectives and work of the African Union. Secondly, the nature of civil society on the Continent is not as conventional as it is understood to be in South Africa. He suggested considering church groups in civil society, as well as other more professional bodies. There are differences in how certain terms are understood, which creates confusion.

Ms A van Wyk (NNP) suggested turning to traditional structures that are used in various other African countries, for the dissemination of information.

The Chairperson stated that on a continental basis, the kind of people one finds in civil society are extremely diverse. They must be accessed through trade unions, religious groups and so forth. She continued that it is often the well resourced who come to the meetings. The "people on the ground", from the poorer, less advantaged level of society, are usually outside the scope of these meetings.

She suggested organising a seminar for the media, in order to share Parliament's own perspective and information with them firsthand. She asked the Committee if it was necessary, before the Seminar in May, to have a broader workshop in Parliament.

Should continental civil society be invited to the PAP Seminar? She informed the Committee that funding for the Seminar had already been secured. It was required of the Committee to prepare a report on what they were proposing, for submission and approval, to the National Assembly.

Mentioning other outstanding issues, the Chairperson stated that there was a large agenda to discuss. How should that be dealt with? Lastly, she informed the Committee that Mr Pat Govender had withdrawn from his research into determining strategy for liasing with civil society, with the explanation that he had found difficulty in meeting with the various stakeholders. She added that she had no knowledge that he had tried to get in touch with the stakeholders.

The Deputy Speaker confirmed that she also had no knowledge of Mr Govender attempting to contact her.

Dr L Gabriel (Manager: Information Services Section) informed the Committee that he had requested Mr Govender's report.

The Chairperson said that a new strategy could not be undertaken in just the fourteen remaining days. She suggested popularising the work and plans of the AU on a website, even though "grassroots" people did not really have access to this facility. However, it is a very effective medium through which to spread information, and could definitely be used to advantage. She said the fact that that she could think of nothing but the website through which to inform those people at grassroots level of events, showed how out of touch the Committee was with them. She urged the Committee to consider methods that could be utilised to reach people with information.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) suggested publishing a parliamentary newspaper, through which the Committee could inform the masses of people on the work and plans of the AU.

The Speaker advised that suggestions of this sort should go before the Vision Meeting.

Mr J Seremane (DA) cautioned that distribution is a major part of disseminating printed information, and can become problematic.

Ms R Mbuyazi (IFP) mentioned that people in rural areas, including those who cannot read, listen to the radio. This was an effective medium that could be utilised.

The Chairperson responded that there would be a great deal of publicity around the 25 May. Instead of using the website, a one-minute advertisement could be introduced on radio.

She asked the Committee to decide if it saw the need for an internal workshop before the PAP Seminar.

Mr Seremane felt an internal workshop was definitely necessary. This workshop should consider how much the Parliament of South Africa is understood by its own people.

The Chairperson asked Mr Seremane to mention that idea at the Vision Workshop on the Friday following the Committee meeting.

A date could not be established for the pre-Seminar workshop. All the Members agreed that the coming period was a very busy one, and that their schedules were full.

The Committee needed to have one last meeting of the Working Group. This meeting would take place on either 14 or 15 April, by which time an agenda for the Seminar would be ready. It would be necessary to appoint certain people to act as consultants, as a lead-up to the Seminar.

The Chairperson stated that all Members of the Working Group would be invited to the Seminar, which would be held at Parliament in Cape Town.

The meeting was adjourned.


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