A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION (National Assembly)
22 August 2003
These minutes were produced kind courtesy of the Mr M Xaso of the Table Staff.
Chair: Dr F Ginwala
Davies, R H
Mbuyazi, L R
Van Wyk, A
Vilakazi, J N (NCOP)
Apologies: Bapela, O; Cassim, M F; Eglin, C; Geldenhuys, B L; Jordan, Z P; Turok, B.
Staff in attendance: Coetzee, M (Deputy Secretary); Meyer, L (Assistant Secretary); Jenkins, F and Lenzie, D (Parliamentary Law Advice Office); Xaso, M and Adonis, J (NA Table); Gabriel, L (Information Services Unit); Nonyane, B (NCOP Procedural Unit).
Ms L Castleman: Deputy Director, Peace and Security, Department of Foreign Affairs, was also in attendance.
1. Adoption of Agenda
At the request of the Speaker, discussions on the Pan African Parliament, including the work plan were moved up on the agenda. The following item was added: Deliberations on Nepad.
2. Meeting of African Parliaments and 2nd AU Summit
The Speaker announced that a brief Report on the Meeting of African Parliaments had been made available to members of the Working Group. A detailed report from the Department of Foreign Affairs on the 2nd Summit had also been made available. She mentioned that at the close of the Meeting of African Parliaments, a Declaration
which she subsequently presented on behalf of the PAP Steering Committee at the 2nd AU Summit in Maputo, was adopted. The 2nd Summit, among others, adopted the following Protocols:
- Draft Protocol of the Court of Justice of the African Union;
- Draft Protocol on the Amendments to the Constitutive Act;
- Draft Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Corruption;
- Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights relating to the Rights of Women; and
- The revised 1968 African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Some of these Protocols would be referred to particular committees once they were brought before Parliament. The Assembly also adopted a resolution on the PAP Protocol. First, the resolution appealed to countries to ratify the PAP Protocol. Second, it provided that the PAP should, if possible, meet before 31 January 2004. The Chairperson of the Union, in consultation with the Commission, was mandated to determine the beginning of the first term of office of the Pan African Parliament in terms of Article 5(2) of the Protocol as soon as the Protocol came into force (Clause 7 of the Resolution). The AU Commission, whose composition is 50 % women, was constituted at the Summit and the former President of Mali H.E Mr A O Konare was elected Chairperson of the Commission. The Speaker pointed out that the Commission was the first international organisation with this particular gender composition. The Commission would be assuming office on 16 September 2003. It had been hoped prior to the Summit that the Assembly would also decide on the Seat of the PAP. However, the Assembly had apparently received legal advice to the effect that it could not take a decision on the matter until the sufficient number of countries had ratified the Protocol. The Speaker expressed reservations about the correctness of this particular legal advice. She explained that in terms of its provisions, the Protocol comes into force once the sufficient number of countries had ratified the Protocol. However, it does not state explicitly that the PAP should meet immediately once the ratifications have been attained. Instead, the Protocol requires the Assembly to determine the first term of office. Clause 7 of the Assembly Resolution was inserted specifically to enable the Chairperson of the Union to convene the PAP without a meeting of the Assembly.
- Speaker to convene a meeting of the PAP Steering Committee after 16 September 2003.
- Speaker to discuss the developments at the Summit with the PAP Steering Committee.
3. Ratification of the PAP Protocol
The Speaker reported that thus far 21 countries had ratified the Protocol, adding that her office was in the process of engaging each Parliament on the issue of ratification. She expressed concern that some Parliaments still did not have copies of the PAP Protocol, three years after it was adopted by the Union. She said that it was still likely that the sufficient number of ratifications would be attained in September 2003. The Chairperson of the AU would only make a decision on the first meeting when the sufficient number of countries have ratified. However, time constraints may make it difficult to convene the PAP before 31 January 2004. She reported that she had also written to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which was currently meeting in Nairobi to raise the issue of ratification of the Protocol. She pointed out that it was important for the South African Parliament to assess the level of its readiness vis-à-vis the establishment of the PAP. In this regard, there was a need to focus on a detailed work plan to prepare Parliament. She mentioned that staff had done preparatory work on this matter, including issues related to the budget. Staff had also prepared a document on the budget and the other details of hosting the Seat of the PAP. Responding to Dr Davies who sought clarity on the failure of the Assembly to take a decision on the Seat of the PAP, the Speaker said that Lybia was the only country other than South Africa that had made an offer to host the Seat of the PAP. However, the item (Seat of PAP) was not put on the agenda of the Assembly because of the legal advice the AU had received on the matter. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) had agreed to support South Africa's bid to host the PAP. She suggested that South Africa may need to engage Lybia on the issue of the Seat. Mrs Van Wyk suggested that it was necessary to popularize the concept of the PAP, with emphasis on its benefits to South Africa and to the region. The Speaker responded that the matter could be included in the work plan.
- After the meeting of the Steering Committee the Speaker to write another letter of appeal to Member States to ratify the Protocol.
- Working Group to focus on a detailed work plan to get the South African Parliament ready.
4. Election of a delegation
The Speaker indicated that Parliament did not need to wait for the date of the first meeting of the PAP to be determined to elect its delegates. The new Parliament in 2004 would, however, still need to re-elect the delegation. She suggested that the delegation be elected in the third or fourth week of November 2003. The need for additional members to accompany the elected delegates, in an advisory capacity, should also be considered. Again, members would also need to consider whether a Joint Sitting of the two Houses should be convened for the purpose of electing the delegation. The Deputy Speaker suggested that parties needed to consider the type of people to be elected as delegates. She said that parties would need to reach consensus on the delegation before the matter was even formalized through a Joint Sitting. She mentioned that the SADC region had taken a position that the region should have two- thirds of women in their delegations to the PAP. As indicated previously, the South African delegation to the PAP would need to comprise three women and two men. Consideration should also be given to how many delegates would come from each of the two Houses to make up the five. The Speaker indicated that a policy on allowances would need to be determined for the entire PAP. This matter would form part of discussions on the actual formation of the PAP. However, each Parliament would bear the costs of its delegation. The host country would only bear the cost of the venue and relevant facilities e.g interpretation.
- In the third or fourth week of November 2003, elections of members to serve on the PAP to take place.
- South African delegation to be composed as follows: three women and two men.
- Also, the Working Group to consider how many of the five delegates to the PAP are to come from each of the two Houses - parties to consider these issues as well.
- If the Joint Sitting is held, a debate on the PAP to be considered.
- Provision to be made in the Parliamentary budget for additional delegates to accompany, in an advisory capacity, the elected delegation to the PAP.
- Parliamentary budget to henceforth make provision for support staff to PAP delegation and members' facilities.
- Staff to provide comparative information on how other national Parliaments provide/deal with their delegates to regional and continental Parliamentary bodies (a document with different options to be compiled).
5. Mandates and accountability and reporting mechanisms
The Speaker mentioned that Parliament would need to consider mechanisms for giving mandates to the South African delegation to the PAP e.g. do we expect a system whereby before a PAP session the agenda is tabled before a committee, delegates receive mandates and report back on return? In other countries this system is applied even to members of the Executive. Parliament should also discuss the issue of recall of members serving in PAP e.g. what happens when members cross the floor? The inclusion in the Parliamentary Rules of procedure of a provision dealing with giving of mandates would also need to be considered. As part of preparations, Parliament should prepare its delegation as to what positions they take when the PAP meets collectively. Ms Hajaig stated that the South African delegation at the PAP should be able to protect the interests of the country. The Deputy Speaker mentioned that the question of accountability was relevant in this regard. Delegates to the PAP should be held accountable and responsible to Parliament. The Oath should also indicate that delegates are mandated by, and represent, their country. She said that Parliament should be able to recall delegates. The Speaker read article 6 of the Protocol which provides that delegates would vote in the their personal and independent capacity. The Deputy Speaker responded that, perhaps, this particular provision was informed by specific situations that obtained in other countries e.g. dictatorships. Dr Davies suggested that the point at issue was the real way in which accountability could be ensured. The nature of the PAP as an evolving institution without legislative powers should be taken into account in this regard. It could be difficult to give delegates hard mandates on issues they would not have had sight of prior to meetings. Mechanisms for interacting with the contents of reports emanating from multilateral meetings needed to be developed within Parliament. However, on issues that would have major implications for the South African Parliament, delegates would need to get a specific mandate in advance. Initially, the work of the PAP would probably be around reviewing the work of the different Commissions. It would be good if reports for discussion at the PAP could be made available in advance, however, this could prove impractical in the initial stages. Dr Davies suggested that a mechanism for recall should only be applied in cases of outrageous behaviour. On the provision of the Protocol that delegates would vote in their personal and independent capacity at the PAP, Mr Abrahams suggested that it was possible that the provision was meant to convey the fact that delegates would not necessarily vote according to blocks. He also suggested that it could be implicit in the Protocol that a delegate would still be expected to show loyalty to his/her country. Mrs Vilakazi agreed, adding that delegates attending international forums should regard themselves as ambassadors for their own country. The Speaker indicated that in other multilateral organizations, like the European Union, delegates form political groups and act as such. On policy issues delegates should be able to vote on the basis of their political party positions. She made the point that, within the context of the PAP, diversity would need to be encouraged. However, if a particular position taken in a meeting was anti-South Africa, a delegate would be expected to respond in a way that takes the interests of the country into account. Mr Seremane agreed, adding that delegates at the PAP would still be bound by the Oath they took when they became members of Parliament. He suggested that the Working Group should assist Parliament in its participation in the PAP. Mrs Vilakazi indicated that the NCOP practice with regard to mandates could prove relevant in this regard, adding that provincial delegates act in the interest of the Province rather than that of the party. Dr Davies pointed out that it could prove difficult to incorporate the issue of mandates into the Parliamentary Rules. He suggested that this issue could be best addressed through practice and convention. Institutions evolve and the PAP should be expected to go through the process of evolving and, ultimately, into taking the pattern of other international bodies such as the European Union. Ms Castleman indicated that the Department of Foreign Affairs had also been having difficulty with obtaining documents prior to multilateral meetings. She suggested that Parliament would do well to establish a strategic body to deal with preparations for the PAP meetings. Mr Abrahams responded that it was necessary to make a provision in the Rules on the issue of mandates from which a convention could develop. The Speaker said that Rules on this issue should be such that they allow evolution to happen.
- Working Group to consider mechanisms for giving mandates to the South African delegation to the PAP e.g. do we expect a system whereby agendas are tabled before a PAP meeting, delegates receive mandates and report back on return?
- Parliament to consider developing a mechanism for the giving of mandates on policy issues to delegates to the PAP e.g. the NCOP practice could provide a good basis.
- Parliament to be able to recall members serving in PAP, if needs be.
- Parliament to consider the inclusion of the issue of mandates in its Rules of Procedure.
Accountability and Reporting Mechanisms
- Parliament to develop effective accountability and reporting mechanisms e.g. what happens when floor crossing takes place and members change membership and when new parties are formed? Etc. Also what about one-member parties? [Staff to prepare a document on this matter]
- Deliberations on the report of the Joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability to also take into account the question of accountability and reporting mechanisms in respect of delegations to multilateral structures.
- Parliament to consider establishing structure/strategic body with a view to discussing/processing issues on the agenda of the PAP (This matter to be incorporated into Rules).
- Parliament to consider developing a mechanism for engaging portfolio and select committees on specific issues emanating from the PAP e.g finance issues.
- Parliament to work with the SADC PF to set up a regional mechanism - Regions would need to meet and caucus prior to PAP meetings.
- Reports from the PAP to be tabled in both Houses.
6. Oath of Office
The Speaker explained that the Chairperson of the AU would convene the PAP. Presiding Officers would then be elected at the first meeting. The nomination of Presiding Officers would need to be processed within regions. The SADC PF would, before SADC establishes a Parliament, have to serve as the caucus of the SADC region. The practice was that the host country could not have one of its members as the President of the PAP. However, the region would still need to identify a Vice President. She suggested that the SADC PF executive should also look into this matter. One of the things that Parliament would need to consider was whether it could spare a Presiding Officer for two months of the year. The Deputy Speaker suggested that Parliament should consider the best people for the PAP delegation. This might mean that even a chairperson of a committee could be elected to be part of the PAP delegation. On a question regarding whether the PAP Presiding Officers would be elected on a rotational basis, the Speaker responded that a Presiding Officer would serve for a period of five years.
Members of the PAP would take an Oath at the first meeting or when they join the PAP. She said that there was a need to clarify whether it was the Chairperson of the AU or the Chairperson of the Commission who would preside at the taking of the Oath. Members need to discuss the necessity of a separate Oath that delegates would take locally prior to their joining the PAP. After deliberations on this matter the following decision was taken:
- A draft Oath to be compiled for consideration by the Working Group.
- The Oath to take into account the vision of the PAP as articulated at the PAP meeting (The vision of the PAP as articulated at the meeting of Parliaments to be circulated).
- Once agreed, the Oath to be submitted to the PAP Steering Committee.
- Members (within their parties) to also consider the necessity of a separate Oath e.g. are members to take a separate oath here when appointed to serve on PAP?
- DFA to consider whether the host country can nominate one of its delegates to be President or Vice-President of the PAP.
- Also, DFA to consider whether Vice-Presidents are replaced by relevant country or by region. (DFA to consider matter politically and Parliamentary Law Adviser to consider the matter legally).
- Parliament to consider whether it can afford to spare a Presiding Officer for two months in a year.
- Law Advisers to consider whether, when an election is called and only two members out of the five delegates to the PAP are re-elected into Parliament, Parliament would need to re-elect two members or five.
The Speaker suggested that an Induction of members should be arranged in regard to the detail and implications of the PAP Protocol as well as the contents of the South African Constitution. Members need to understand the type of limitations that exist in the Constitution. The workshop on these issues could also include all the members of Parliament.
- An Induction of members into the detail and implications of the PAP Protocol as well as into the contents of the South African Constitution to be arranged (Law Advisers to coordinate this matter)
8. Appointment of Staff
Ms Castleman pointed out that the Department of Foreign Affairs had until recently not had policies for dealing with the secondment of staff to multilateral bodies. She suggested that Parliament might need to consider this matter as well. The Speaker replied that Parliament had submitted a new document dealing with staff to the Department of Foreign Affairs on the basis that South Africa would be hosting. The document also included both the vision as articulated at the meeting of African Parliaments and the budget. One of the issues needing consideration was whether the PAP should have its own staff entirely or whether Parliaments should second staff to it.
- Working Group to consider whether PAP will employ staff or whether Parliaments will second staff to PAP.
9. Draft Rules of the PAP
The Speaker mentioned that the Election Rules of the PAP were not spelt out in the Protocol. These Rules would need to be agreed to by the Steering Committee in consultation with the regions. Guidance on this matter may need to be sought from the AU. The draft Rules of Procedure have been drafted and members of the Working Group would need to start considering these Rules. The Working Group would need to decide the type and number of committees that should be recommended to the AU. Dr Davies suggested that committees of the PAP could be clustered under common subjects.
- Staff to prioritise the draft Rules of Procedure of the PAP i.e rules of debate, establishment of committees.
- The Chairpersons' Forum to be requested to advise on the number and structure of PAP committees. In this regard it should not be necessary to follow the structure of AU Commissions.
- Speaker to present the draft Rules to the PAP Steering Committee.
10. AU Commissions
The Speaker gave the following details regarding the new commission of the AU.
- Peace and Security: Mr Said Djinnit (Algeria);
- Political Affairs: Mrs Julia Dolly Joiner (The Gambia);
- Infrastructure and Energy: Mr Bernard Zoba (Congo Brazzaville);
- Social Affairs: Ms Bience Philomina Gawanas (Namibia);
- Human Resources, Science and Technology: Mrs Saida Agrebi (Tunisia);
- Trade and Industry: Ms Elisabeth Tankeu (Cameroon); and
- Rural Economy and Agriculture: Ms Rosebud Kurwijila (Tanzania)
- DFA to provide details on the functions of AU Commissions.
- Working Group to follow up on the establishment of other organs that are accountable to the PAP.
11. The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (Ecosocc)
The Speaker mentioned that the Ecosocc draft statutes would be adopted at the next Summit of the AU. Ms Castleman stated that the Permanent Representatives Committee would need to consider the statutes before the next Summit.
- Working Group to make input into DFA position on the Ecosocc draft statutes.
- Task Team on Ecosocc to resume its deliberations on the Ecosocc and specifically on the draft statutes.
- DFA to ensure early tabling of AU Protocols for purposes of ratification.
- When tabled/submitted, draft Protocols to be sent to relevant committees for deliberations.
12. Next meeting of Working Group and Report
The Speaker suggested that the Working Group needed to have weekly meetings to deal with issues before it. However, the meetings should not clash with either meetings of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry or Foreign Affairs.
- In current session, Working Group to meet every Tuesday, from 08:00 to 10:00.
- Report of the Working Group to also contain options for election of members.
- After the meeting of Tuesday, 26 August, issues that need consideration by the Rules Committee to be conveyed.
- Workplan/programme for the current session to be submitted at the next meeting.
- New Partnership for Africa's Development and Africa Peer Review Mechanism
The Speaker explained that codes and indicators relating to the APRM were agreed to last year. The eminent persons that are supposed to lead the APRM process have been elected. The APRM recently had a meeting with a team of United Nations experts to discuss the conducting of the peer review mechanism. Sixteen countries on the continent including South Africa have agreed to undertake peer review. A three-day meeting of the sixteen countries was held to discuss the peer review process. Two countries are to be reviewed before the end of 2003. The Speaker indicated that there was a need to identify a structure within Parliament to deal with Nepad issues. Dr Davies agreed, adding that the Working Group would not be the appropriate structure for that purpose. The Speaker indicated that the review would be conducted overall (in all the relevant fields).
- An appropriate structure to be established or identified within Parliament to deal with Nepad issues - currently there is overlap on the issue.
- Speaker to discuss the issue with whips; National Council of Provinces to be included in these deliberations.
- Information on the type of mechanism South Africa has in place to deal with the Peer Review Process to be provided by DFA - Parliament to be part of such a mechanism.
- Report of the APRM meeting that Speaker attended to be circulated to members of the Working Group
The meeting adjourned at 12:00.
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