Pan-African Parliament

Pan-African Parliament (NA)

24 October 2000
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

24 October 2000

Relevant Documents:
Draft Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament (See Appendix 1)

The Committee went through the Draft Protocol clause by clause, discussing each and making amendments. It agreed that the Pan-African Parliament must be a deliberative and consultative body, rather than a legislative one. It also agreed that countries will have equal, rather than proportional, representation in the Parliament and that the Pan-African parliamentarians terms will run concurrently with their term in their national parliament. It also agreed a Pan-African parliamentarian would have no additional salary but only allowances.

The Committee named Mr Derek Honeycomb as its Acting Chairperson. Ms Naledi Pandor, Chairperson of the NCOP, gave some background into the proposed Pan-African Parliament. She said that there is still no detailed framework for the organ, but that details will be set out in a separate protocol. A Draft Constitutive Act of the African Union has been drawn, but lacks detail. To date, 23 countries have signed the Draft Protocol, though none have ratified. In addition, meetings to date between parliamentarians of African countries have not clarified what the powers of the proposed Parliament will be.

Originally, the proposed Parliament was to have had extensive powers, including legislative powers. The organ is now being envisioned as a consultative and deliberative forum, rather than a legislative one.

Dr Geldenhuys (NNP) asked if the Pan-African Parliament was in the context of the Abuja Treaty or the African Union? The State Law Adviser responded that the African Union was a new body that would replace the current Organisation of African Union. The Pan-African Parliament would be a body of the African Union and would take precedence over the Abuja Treaty.

Ms Verwoerd (ANC) asked about the time frames envisioned for the implementation of the African Union. The State Law Adviser responded that, after two-thirds ratification had been achieved, there would be a one-year transitional period during which the organisation would begin to change its name. She noted that at this point, there were many signatories to the agreement, but no ratifications. She said the purpose of the African Union is to replace the Organisation of African Union and that, therefore, the Abuja Treaty will have to be brought in line with the African Union. Accordingly, she noted, this means the African Union actually accelerates the Abuja Treaty.

The State Law Adviser was asked what was expected from the Committee at this meeting. She answered there are many decisions involving the African Union that have yet to be finalised and that South Africa has a contribution to make. It can influence the final outcome and add value to the plan, she said.

Ms Mbete-Kgositsile, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, asked the State Law Adviser what mandate the Committee has, suggesting this would indicate what is required of the Committee in its discussion.

The Speaker for the National Assembly, Ms Ginwala, responded that although the South African Parliament may refuse to ratify the agreement, the Pan-African Parliament will, nevertheless, come into existence, with or without South Africa. She suggested to her colleagues that they not "miss the train".

The Committee accepted Ms Ginwala's advice and began its perusal of the Draft Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan-African Parliament.

One Committee Member asked if there should not be other requirements for inclusion in the proposed Parliament than geographically being in or close to the African continent, for example, political and economic requirements? This idea was not explored by the Committee.

The Committee agreed the powers and functions of the Pan-African Parliament should not be legislative, but deliberative and consultative. Ms Hangana (ANC) said this was the key question.

Article 3 Composition
Dr Benjamin proposed that the Protocol state that at least two representatives of each country must be women. Ms Mapisa-Nqakulu (ANC) worried this was too few and that countries would only meet the minimum standard. Ms Verwoerd (ANC) agreed they want substantive female representation and that setting a minimum number is just to ensure the principle will be met.

The Committee agreed the representatives to the Pan-African Parliament must be Members of Parliament in their own countries and that, as a group, they should be "broadly representative" of the nation they represent.

The Committee agreed that countries in the Parliament should have equal, rather than proportional, representation.

The Committee agreed each country should have eight representatives on the Pan-African Parliament.

Article 4 Election and Tenure of Pan-African Parliamentarians
Dr Geldenhuys suggested there be new members for each new term of the Pan-African Parliament. This proposal was accepted by all Committee Members.

An ANC Member said that since the Pan-African Parliament was to be a non-legislative body, the notion of election was irrelevant. Ms Pandor agreed, saying they should limit their attention to the question of tenure.

The Committee agreed that a Pan-African Parliamentarian's term will run concurrently with her term in her national parliament.

Article 5 Vote
Ms Pandor asked how or why they assume that members of the Pan-African Parliament will vote? She suggested they consider how matters in the Parliament will be handled and doubted a mandate that requires voting will ever exist.
The State Law Adviser reported that SADC makes its decisions on the basis of consensus and consultation. The Committee agreed these would be good bases on which the Pan-African Parliament could make decisions.

Article 12 Rules of Procedure and Organisation of the Pan-African Parliament
The Committee agreed the Parliament's President and Vice-Presidents will not keep their positions for more than five years.

The Committee agreed a Member of the Pan-African Parliament will no longer serve as part of that body once the term of office in the Member's national parliament is complete.

Article 10 Honorarium
Dr Geldenhuys suggested the honorarium fall away.

The Chairperson suggested remuneration be borne by member states, commenting this was non-controversial.

Ms Pandor said it was potentially controversial if the honorarium came to be a substantial amount. She suggested this discussion be left to the Committee's November meeting. The Committee agreed.

Article 8 Privileges and Immunities of Pan-African Parliamentarians
The Committee wondered if Pan-African Parliamentarians needed to have diplomatic immunity, as this article appears to entitle them to this. There was a detailed discussion on this matter, until a Committee member pointed out that the question is answered by Article 9, "Immunity", which extends parliamentary immunity to Pan-African Parliamentarians. There is therefore no extension of diplomatic status to them.

The State Law Adviser said Article 8 should be deleted; its deletion had been overlooked in the haste of drafting.

Dr Geldenhuys asked if Pan-African Parliamentarians would receive another salary, in addition to their salary as a national parliamentarian? The Committee responded, in unison, "No, allowances only".

Article 14 Sessions
The State Law Adviser said the word "Bureau" at Art 14(4) had been included erroneously and should have been deleted and replaced with the word "Parliament".

The Committee agreed to delete the words "unless otherwise directed by the Bureau" from Art 14(4) so that the proceedings of Parliament will always be open to the public.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1


The Member States of the Organisation of African Unity State Parties to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community:

Conscious of the imperative and urgent need to rekindle the aspiration of our peoples for greater unity, solidarity and cohesion in a larger community, transcending cultural, ideological, ethnic, religious and national differences;

Considering the principles and objectives stated in the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity;

Noting, in this regard, that Articles 7 and 14 of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, signed in Abuja, Nigeria, on 3 June 1991, provide for a Pan-African Parliament of the Community, whose composition, functions, powers and organisation shall be defined in a related Protocol;

Recalling the Cairo Agenda for Action which was endorsed by the Thirty-first Ordinary Session of our Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 26 to 28 June 1995 (AHG/Res. 236 (XXXI), and which recommended the speeding up of the rationalisation of the institutional framework in order to achieve economic integration at the regional level;

Recalling further the Declaration of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity on the Political and Economic Situation in Africa and the Fundamental Changes Taking Place in the World, which was adopted by the Twenty-sixth Ordinary Session of our Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 July 1990;

Considering that by the Algiers Declaration (AHG/Decl.l (XXXV) of 14 July 1999 we reaffirmed our faith in the African Economic Community;
Bearing in mind the Sirte Declaration adopted at the Fourth Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, on 9.9.99 calling for the speedy establishment of the institutions provided for in the Abija Treaty and the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament by the year 2000.

Conscious of the obligations and legal implications for Member States of the need to establish the Pan-African Parliament;

Firmly convinced, that the establishment of a Pan-African Parliament will ensure effectively the full participation of the African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent;

Article 1
In this Protocol, the following expressions shall have the meanings assigned to them hereunder:
"Assembly" means the Assembly of Heads of State and Government provided for in Article 7 of the Treaty;
"Community" means the African Economic Community established by Article 2 of the Treaty;
"Council" shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 1 of the Treaty;
"Court of Justice" means the Court of Justice provided for in Article 7 and 18 of the Treaty;
"General Secretariat" shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 1 of the Treaty;
"Member of Parliament" or "Pan-African Parliamentarian" means a representative elected in accordance with Article 5 of this Protocol;
"Member State" or "Member States", unless the context otherwise prescribes, means Member State or Member States of the Community
"OAU" means the Organisation of African Unity;
"Parliament" means the Pan-African Parliament provided for Articles 7 and 14 of the Treaty and established by Article 2 of the Protocol;
"President" means the Member of Parliament elected to conduct the business of Parliament in accordance with Article 12 of this Protocol;
"Regions of Africa" shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 1 of the Treaty;
"Secretariat" means the office provided for in Article 12 of this Protocol;
"Secretary-General" shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 1 of the Treaty;
"Treaty" means the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community.

Article 2
Establishment of the Pan-African Parliament
1. Member States hereby establish a Pan-African Parliament the composition, functions, powers and organisation of which shall be governed by the present Protocol.
2. The Pan-African Parliamentarians shall represent all the peoples of Africa.

Article 3
Each Member State shall be represented in the Parliament by a designated number of its nationals. The total number of representatives in the Parliament and the formula for determining the number of each Member State shall be agreed upon by the Member States.

Article 4
Election and Tenure of Pan-African Parliamentarians
1.The Pan-African Parliamentarians shall be elected by direct universal suffrage in accordance with the electoral laws in force in Member States. Pending the adoption of uniform electoral laws applicable in all Member States, and for the first term of office, the Pan-African Parliamentarians shall be appointed by the respective National Parliaments or any other deliberative organ of the Member States.

2.The election of the Pan-African Parliamentarians shall be held on a date fixed by each Member
State. As far as is practicable, the election shall be held in all Member States during the same period of three months to be decided by the Assembly.

3. The Assembly shall determine the beginning of the first term of office of the Parliament at its session immediately following the entry into force of this Protocol.

4.Subsequent elections shall be held in the last year of the term of each Parliament.

5.The term of each Pan-African Parliamentarian shall be 5 (five) years renewable.

6.The term shall commence with the first session of Parliament held after each election.

Article 5
The Pan-African -Parliamentarians shall vote in their personal and independent capacity and shall not be bound by instructions from any person or authority.

Article 6
Membership of the Parliament shall not be compatible with:
(a) The exercise of executive or judicial functions in a Member State.

(b) The appointment as officials serving in any organ of the OAU, an African Regional Economic Community or a Regional African or International Organisation.

Article 7
The qualification for membership of the Parliament shall be the same as applies under the respective domestic laws of Member States.

Article 8
Privileges and Immunities of Pan-African Parliamentarians
The Pan-African Parliamentarians shall enjoy, from the moment of their election and throughout their term of office, the immunities and privileges extended to diplomatic agents under the General Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the OAU.

Article 9
1.The Pan-African Parliamentarians shall enjoy parliamentary immunity in each Member State. Accordingly, no legal proceedings or processes shall be instituted against a Pan-African Parliamentarian for what is said or done within or outside the Parliament but within his or her mandate as a Member of Parliament; neither shall he or she de detained on that account.

2. Without prejudice to the immediately preceding paragraph of this Article, Parliament shall have the power to lift the immunity hereby guaranteed a Member in accordance with its Rules of Procedure.

Article 10
The Pan-African Parliamentarians shall be paid an allowance which shall be determined by the Assembly on the advice of the Parliament.

Article 11
Functions and Powers
During the initial period of its existence, and until such time as the Member States decide otherwise, the Pan-African Parliament shall have advisory and consultative powers only. In this regard, it may:
1. Examine, discuss or express an opinion on any matter either on ii own initiative or at the request of the Assembly or other policy organs and make any recommendations it may deem fit.

2. Discuss its budget and the budget of the Community and make recommendations thereon prior to its approval by the Assembly.

3. Work towards the integration, harmonisation or co-ordination of the law of Member States.

4. Commission studies, hold consultations and make recommendations with a view to contributing to the attainment of the objectives of the Community and draw attention to the challenges facing the integration process in Africa as well as the strategies for dealing with them.

5. Seek an advisory opinion from the Court of Justice on any matte concerning its mandate.

Article 12
Rules of Procedure and Organisation of the Pan-African Parliament.
1. The Parliament shall adopt its own Rules of Procedure on the basis of a two-thirds majority of all its members.

2. The Parliament shall elect, at its first sitting following its election, by secret ballot from among its members and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, a President and 5 (five) Vice Presidents representing the Regions of Africa as determined by the OAU. The
election shall in each case be by simple majority of the members present and voting.

3. The terms of office of the President and the Vice-Presidents shall run with the Parliament which elects them.

4. The Vice-Presidents shall be ranked in the order of first, second, third, fourth and fifth by ballot.

5. Parliament shall appoint a Clerk, two Deputy Clerks and such staff and functionaries as it may deem necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and may by regulations provide for their terms and conditions of office and in accordance with the relevant OAU practice as appropriate.

6. The President, the Vice-Presidents and the Clerk and two Deputy Clerks of Parliament shall be the officers of the Parliament. The Officers, under the control and direction of the President and subject to such directives as may be issued by Parliament, shall be responsible for the management and administration of the affairs and facilities of the Parliament and its organs.

7. The President shall preside over all Parliamentary proceedings except those held in committee and, in his or her absence, the Vice-Presidents shall act in rotation in accordance with the Rules of Procedure which shall also deal with the powers of the person presiding over parliamentary proceedings.

8. The seat of a Member of Parliament and the Office of the President or Vice-President shall become vacant if he or she:
(a) dies
(b) resigns in writing to Parliament and upon its acceptance;
(c) becomes physically or mentally incapacitated;
(d) is removed on grounds of misconduct which adversely affects the discharge or his or her functions, the conduct of parliamentary business, the reputation or dignity of Parliament;

9. Removal on grounds 7 (c) or (d) shall be on a motion to be decided on by secret ballot and supported at the end of debate by two-thirds majority of all the Pan-African Parliamentarians. In the case of removal under 7 (c), the motion shall, in addition, be supported by a medical report.

10. Vacancies shall be declared by Parliament. A vacant seat shall be filled in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 4. A vacancy in the Office of the President or Vice-President shall be filled at the sitting of Parliament immediately following its occurrence.

11. The quorum shall be constituted by a simple majority.

12. Each Pan-African Parliamentarian shall have one vote. Decisions shall be made by a simple majority of those present and voting unless otherwise stipulated in this Protocol or the Rules of Procedure. In the event of an equality of votes the person presiding shall have a casting vote.

13. Parliament may establish such committees as it deems fit for the proper discharge of its functions and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure.

4. Parliament shall have its own Secretariat, which shall be headed by the Clerk of Parliament. Until Parliament, appoints its staff, the General Secretariat of the OAU shall act as the Secretariat for the Parliament.

Article 13
Oath of Office
At its first sitting after the election and before proceeding on any other matter, the Pan-African Parliamentarians shall take an oath or make a solemn declaration to discharge their duties faithfully and in a manner consistent with the best interest of the peoples of Africa. The oath or declaration shall be set out in the Rules of Procedure.

Article 14
1. The Secretary-General of the OAU shall summon and preside over the inaugural sitting of Parliament until the election of the President and thereafter the President shall preside.

2. Parliament shall meet in ordinary session at least twice a year, within a period to be determined in the Rules of Procedure. Each ordinary session may last up to one month.

3. One-third of the Pan-African Parliamentarians, the Assembly or the Council, through the Current Chairman of the OAU, may, by written notification addressed to the President, request an extraordinary session. The President shall convene such a session which shall only discuss the matters stipulated in the request. The session shall end upon exhaustion of the agenda.

4. The proceedings of Parliament shall be open to the public, unless otherwise directed by the Bureau.

Article 15
1. The annual budget of the Parliament shall be part of the budget of the Community, which constitutes an integral part of the regular budget of the OAU.

2. The budget shall be determined by Parliament and approved by the Assembly on the recommendation of the Council.

3. The preparation and execution of the Budget shall be in accordance with the Financial Regulations and Accounting Procedures instituted by the Council.

Article 16
Seat of the Parliament

The seat of the Parliament shall be determined by the Assembly and shall be located in the territory of a State Party to this Protocol. However, Parliament may convene in the territory of any Member State at the invitation of that Member State.

Article 17
Working Languages
The working languages of the Parliament shall be the same as those of the Community.

Article 18
Observer Status
Parliament may in accordance with its Rules of Procedure grant Observer Status to an African non-governmental organisation, a Regional Economic Community, a Regional African organisation or any other organisation as it may determine in its absolute discretion.

Article 19
The Relationship between Parliament and the Parliaments of Regional
Economic Communities and National Parliaments
The Parliament shall work in close co-operation with the Parliaments of the Regional Economic Communities and the National Parliaments of Member States. To this effect, Parliament may, in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, convene annual consultative forums with the Parliaments of the Regional Economic Communities and the National Parliaments to discuss matters of common interest.

Article 20
The Pan-African Parliamentarians from a Member State which withdraws from the Community shall automatically cease to be Pan-African Parliamentarians.

Article 21
The Court of Justice shall be seized with all matters of interpretation emanating from the present Protocol. Pending its establishment, such matters shall be submitted to the Assembly which shall decide by a two-thirds majority.

Article 22
Signature and Ratification
1. This Protocol shall be signed and ratified by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures.

2. The instruments of ratification or accession shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the OAU.

Article 23
Entry into force
This Protocol shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification by a simple majority of the Member States.

Article 24
1. Any Member State may notify the Secretary-General of its intention to accede to this Protocol. The Secretary-General shall, upon receipt of such notification, transmit copies thereof to all Member States.

2. For or any Member State ratifying or acceding subsequently, the present Protocol shall come into force in respect of the State on the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 25
Amendment or Revision of the Protocol
1. The present Protocol may be amended or revised by the decision of a two-thirds majority of the Assembly.

2. Any Member State party to the present Protocol may propose in writing to the Secretary General of the Community any amendment or revision of the Protocol.

3. The Secretary-General shall notify the proposal to all Member States at least thirty (30) days before the meeting of the Assembly which is to consider the proposal.

4. The Secretary-General shall request the opinion of the Parliament on the proposal and shall transmit the opinion, if any, to the Assembly which may adopt the proposal, taking into account the opinion of Parliament.

5. The amendment or revision shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification with the Secretary-General by two-thirds of Member States.


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