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

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

17 June 2003

These minutes were provided by Parliament staff

Ms F Ginwala (ANC)


Speaker (Chairperson)
Deputy Speaker
Abrahams, T
Bapela, O
Davies, R H
Eglin, C
Geldenhuys, B L
Hajaig, F
Makanda, W G
Mbuyazi, L R
Motubatse, D
Mtsweni, N S
Rajbally, S
Seremane, J
Turok, B

: Cassim, M F; Mars, I; Van Wyk, A.

Staff in attendance
: Mfenyana, S (Secretary); Coetzee, M (Deputy Secretary); Meyer, L (Assistant Secretary); Jenkins, F and Lenzie, D (Parliamentary Law Advice Office); Ismail, N, Xaso, M and Mohlomi, N (NA Table); Gabriel, L (Information Services Unit).

1. Consideration of Minutes of 13 May 2003

On the motion of Prof Turok, seconded by the Deputy Speaker, the minutes were adopted.

2. Matters arising from the Minutes

The production in different languages of brief inserts for radio broadcast
The Speaker expressed concern that she only recently received a request to do interviews for radio inserts to cover June or July, whereas the original intention had been to start flighting the interviews around the 40th Anniversary of the OAU in May 2003. Dr Gabriel responded that the interviews were currently being conducted and that they would be flighted in the week leading to the AU Summit. The intention was also to flight some of the interviews in the days preceding the meeting of African Parliaments.

3. Report on the meeting of the Task Team on the PAP
The Speaker reported that invitations had been sent to African Parliaments. Parliaments had been asked to have at least one woman on their delegations. She asked staff to check responses from the Parliaments to establish whether, in terms of the delegation, there was women representation. She noted that the SADC PF meeting would coincide with the opening of the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The Secretary had written to all the Secretaries of the SADC Parliaments inviting them to the meeting. On the Saturday evening, 28 June 2003, the SADCPF Speakers would be invited to the Grand Opening of the Convention Centre. The Meeting of African Parliaments would only start on Monday, 30 June 2003. The President would not be in the country during the Meeting and the Presidency had suggested that the Deputy President be invited for the purpose of opening the Meeting. The Interim Chairperson of the AU, Mr Amara Essy, had also been invited. The responses from the Parliaments were still poor as only 12 Parliaments, most of which were from the SADC, had so far responded. A follow up would be done both through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the respective Embassies.

4. Draft Programme
The Speaker explained that an attempt had been made to get a broad representation of the Continent in terms of the resource people. She proposed that for the 'opening session' between Libya, Saharawi and Mali, a decision needed to be made as to which one of them should give the response. She said that all the above Parliaments were members of the Steering Committee on the PAP. Mr Eglin queried the fact that only three Parliaments were identified to give the response whereas the Steering Committee consisted of ten members. The Speaker responded that a final decision on the matter would be made only when Parliaments had confirmed their attendance. Mr Bapela clarified that the names of Speakers from the three countries were given only as a suggestion. The Speaker clarified that Libya, because of its keenness on the PAP, was almost certain to attend. The Speaker of the Saharawi Republic had already indicated that he would be attending. The Speaker of Mali, who is also the Head of the Union of African Parliaments had, at the meeting of the PAP Steering Committee, shown a keen interest in PAP issues. She reported further that Prof N Haysom was not due back in the country till the end of July 2o03, and therefore, he would not be able to attend the Meeting. She explained that Mr C Ndebele, the former Speaker of Zimbabwe and also a legal and constitutional lawyer, had also been identified as a resource person. Mr Ndebele was also part of the team that drafted the PAP Protocol. Dr S Gutto would be phoned on 17 June 2003 to check his availability. Ms Rajbally enquired whether a deadline had been set for the delegates to respond to the invitation. The Speaker explained that because of the nature of the Meeting, a deadline could invariably have served as a deterrent.
Resource people to be phoned after the meeting with a view to confirming their availability

Mr Eglin mentioned that, in his view, the relationship of the PAP with all the other AU organs was critical. The Speaker responded that the Parliamentary Legal Services had, for that reason, been asked to scan the PAP Protocol and Treaty to see if there were any provisions linking the PAP with the other AU organs. First, it was necessary to know progress made regarding the establishment of other AU organs as well as their accountability vis-à-vis the PAP. She gave the example that the Peace and Security Council Protocol was, for instance, clear on the relationship of the Council with the PAP. She pointed out, however, that no new AU organs would be established at the Summit in Mozambique.

Mr Eglin indicated that his assumption was that if the PAP would not be a legislative body for a long time, it should in the meantime monitor the AU activities and also channel inputs from the people to the various organs of the AU. He suggested that the programme for the Meeting should take into account the totality of the PAP.

Mr Bapela cautioned that there should not be an assumption that everyone was familiar with the Protocol. He suggested that Session 1 of the programme should be kept as 'familiarisation with the Protocol and the status of Ratification'. The Deputy Speaker expressed concern that Session 2 of the programme seemed to cover a wide area. (Session 2 of the programme was as follows: progress on establishment of the African Union and the relationship of its organs with the Pan African Parliament). She suggested that the Session be split up under two topics. The Speaker explained that a lot of people were still not familiar with the PAP Protocol. She added that the South African members, however, should at least be familiar with the relationship between the PAP and the AU Assembly. She pointed out that the extent of the definition in the PAP Protocol concerning the relationship between these two bodies was very limited. However, the Treaty had a definition of the AU organs of which included the PAP. She repeated that it was for this purpose that the staff had been asked to scan the Treaty and establish the relationship with the PAP of any future AU organs. Prof Turok cautioned the meeting against being rigid in formulating the programme. Dr Davies suggested that whoever would introduce the topic under the first session should be able to cover not only what the Protocol contained but also what it did not contain. The Speaker explained that the first and second sessions would give an introduction of the existing legal framework; the third session would deal with the vision aspects of the PAP and the fourth session, among others, would cover the links between the AU organs. Instead of making reference to committees under Session 4, the Speaker proposed the term 'accountability mechanisms'. She suggested that the programme be kept flexible. Between session one and two, the relationship of the PAP with both the Assembly and the Council of Ministers should be teased out in great detail. Prof Turok suggested that the Meeting be given a title.
The title of the meeting to be "The Meeting of African Parliaments on the establishment of the PAP".
In interaction with the resource people, the broader purpose of the Meeting to be spelled out.
The report on the relationship of the PAP with other AU organs, once available, to be circulated.
Members of the Working Group to consider the proposed programme and comment.

Prof Turok suggested that the Nepad Secretariat be invited to the Meeting to give a presentation on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The Speaker responded that background papers would be prepared in respect of the various topics. She suggested that the Nepad Secretariat could also be asked to produce a background paper. She said that the resource people, Dr Adebayo Adedeji and Ms Graca Machel, were the same people charged with the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Dr Davies explained that the resource people would not just be giving a general briefing about the APRM, but also the interaction of the APRM with the PAP and national Parliaments. The Speaker added that they would also be dealing with the role that the PAP and the national Parliaments would have within the APRM. She added that the Nepad Secretariat, even though it would not be making a specific presentation, was going to be invited to the Meeting, in any event. Ms Hajaig highlighted that the name of the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament was misspelt in the programme. She said that the correct name was "Sorour" not Sourer.

The Speaker mentioned that the relationship between the regional structures and the PAP still needed to be dealt with. In the Treaty to the African Union, it was stated that the regional structures would be the building blocks of the AU. Apart from this provision, there was no further guideline regarding the relationship. She asked the meeting to consider whether an item was necessary on 'building unity on the continent', using regional structures. Dr Davies responded that if the focus of the Meeting was on the Parliamentary dimension, there was a large proliferation of regional integration institutions which was a problem in its own right. Not all of the regional structures had Parliamentary structures associated with them. He suggested that a debate was first needed around the issue of regional bodies. As a first step, focus should be on the harmonization of efforts leading to unity. This would help identify overlaps and benefits of working together rather than attempting institutional mergers. He proposed that the Parliamentary structures should debate the content of regional integration programmes. Prof Turok said that there was an ambition in terms of regional integration at a political level. There needed to be recognition that regional Parliaments did exist and that they should be part of the scenario. Mr Eglin suggested the inclusion in the programme of the relationship between the regional Parliaments and the PAP.
Regional parliaments to be asked to produce a two-pager about their status and their relationship with the PAP.
Regional parliaments to be invited to join in the discussions, including commenting on the problems.

Mr Eglin asked whether the timing of the Meeting was meant to coincide with the AU Summit. The Speaker responded that most of the delegates would not be attending the Summit except people like Mr Amara Essy.

5. Meeting of Civil Society
The Speaker mentioned that a meeting of Civil Society had taken place over the weekend of 14 June 2003. The meeting finalized a Protocol on Ecosocc which would be submitted at the meeting of the Heads of State. Even if the Heads of State approved it, it would still need to be ratified before coming into force.
The Ecosocc Protocol to be circulated, once received by Parliament

6. Public Information around the Meeting
Prof Turok suggested that a public information strategy around the Meeting was necessary. He expressed concern that the media had not been enlightening the public about the African Union except being highly sceptical in most instances. He proposed that a senior journalist be identified to write a series of articles on issues like the meaning of the PAP and its vision. The Speaker agreed with the concerns raised by Prof Turok and gave the example of a press briefing she had about two weeks ago. She said that she had mentioned at the briefing that a SADC Parliament was going to be established, however, not a single newspaper referred to the statement. She indicated that she was intending to do a media briefing in the course of the week, adding that the media briefing was open to the members to attend. Mr Eglin suggested that a radio phone-in programme on the PAP could also prove effective.
Prof Turok to propose names of journalists who could write articles on the PAP.
Both the media briefing and radio phone-in debates to be organized in preparation for the Meeting.
In particular, the African language media to be targeted.

Mrs Mbuyazi mentioned that the South African members of Parliament still needed to be familiarized with the PAP. The Speaker responded that the Working Group had run three seminars and produced seven reports on the AU and the PAP. She added that members themselves needed to start writing articles on the AU.

Dr Davies asked whether there was a process to oversee the compilation of sound bites that were being produced for radio broadcast. Dr Gabriel responded that he would be involved in the editing of the sound bites and the members concerned would also be asked to edit their inserts.

7. Composition of the delegation to the Meeting
Three members from the SADC PF
One member from each of the six largest political parties
Members of the Working Group
The Meeting to be attended by other members as observers
Staff to prepare letters of invitation to the parties
Additional tickets would not be provided for members attending the Meeting

8. Preparation for debates
Prof Turok expressed concern that there was no adequate preparation for debates in Parliament. He suggested that prior to debates, a problem stating document should be prepared with a view to assisting members understand the subject under discussion. The Speaker responded that it was the responsibility of political parties to do background research prior to debates.

Mr Eglin expressed concern that both the AU and the SADC were very remote from Parliament. He suggested that after every Ministerial Council meeting the relevant Minister should be required to give a report to Parliament. Within two weeks of an important multilateral meeting taking place, there should be a report to Parliament. The Speaker agreed and said that she had repeatedly raised the matter at NA Rules Committee meetings. She gave the example that in other countries, Parliaments set up committees at which Ministers table agendas and reports of multilateral meetings. She said that if Parliament was serious about accountability of the Executive to it, it needed to be proactive. She expressed concern that Parliament had not got to the point of using the powers accorded to it by the Constitution. Dr Davies agreed and also expressed concern that what were referred to committees in most instances were simply legal documents about the institutional framework of departments. He emphasized the point he made earlier that debates about the content of regional integration were warranted. The Speaker said that committees needed to be trained on the nature of the subject matters they were dealing with. At the moment the only briefings committees were getting were by departments. She said that a training programme had been agreed previously and resources made available, however, there was no follow up on the matter on the part of committee chairpersons.

The meeting adjourned at 11:45.


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