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

Working Group on African Union

15 September 2003
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Meeting report

WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION (National Assembly)
16 September 2003
DRAFT MINUTES

These minutes were produced kind courtesy of the Mr M Xaso of the Table Staff.

Chair: Dr F Ginwala

Present:
Speaker (Chairperson)
Deputy Speaker
Deputy Chairperson
Cassim, M F
Eglin, C
Mars, I
Mathee, P A (NCOP)
Mbuyazi, L R
Rajbally, S
Seremane, J
Turok, B
Vilakazi, J N (NCOP)
Xingwana, L

Apologies
: Bapela, O; Davies, R H; Jordan Z P; Geldenhuys, B L; Madasa, Z L and Hajaig, F.

Staff in attendance:
Meyer, L (Assistant Secretary); Matyolo, L L (Secretary: NCOP); Jenkins, F and Lenzie, D (Parliamentary Law Advice Office); Xaso, M (NA Table); Merckel, J (Office of the Secretary); Smith, J (Office of the Secretary); Ntshongwana, P (Office of the Secretary) and Gabriel, L (Information Services Unit).

1. Introduction

The Speaker indicated that Ambassador J Duarte who had been expected to attend the meeting would no longer be attending due to other commitments.

2. Joint Committee on AU/SADC and Popularisation of the PAP

Ms Meyer indicated that the amended version of the proposal on the Joint Committee was attached to the minutes. The Speaker explained that the proposed Joint Committee was envisaged as a long-term structure which would form part of the new Parliament. The establishment of the Committee was also an attempt to bring the two Houses together. She asked Members to carefully consider representation on the Committee by each House.

The principle of establishing the Committee would need to be agreed on by the Houses, even if the structure itself was constituted later.

Mr Mahlangu indicated that the NCOP would support the creation of the Committee. Its terms of reference would, however, still need to be clarified.

Prof Turok suggested that a document on the popularization of the AU be produced. The Speaker agreed that the Working Group should consider the matter, adding that the debate scheduled for 25 September 2003 would also provide an opportunity for the popularization of the PAP.

 

Agreed:

  • The NCOP to give input into the proposal for the establishment of a Joint Committee.
  • Members to also discuss the proposal within party caucuses.
  • The Speaker to raise the matter for a discussion at the meeting with the Chief Whips of the NA.

3. Fourth Seminar on the African Union

The Speaker suggested that the seminar should specifically focus on the PAP rather than the AU as such. During the first session, there should be an opening statement on progress as well as a discussion on the vision of the PAP. The items reflected under the first session in the current draft programme would be subsumed into the opening/introductory statement. The extract of the vision from the papers that were delivered at the meeting of African Parliaments in June/July 2003 should be made available and discussed as a background rather than an agenda item. Under Session Two, items 2 (a), (b), (c) and (d) (dealing with relationship and mechanisms for engagement between the PAP and other organs of the AU) should be removed from the draft programme. However, Session Four (popularization of the African Union by the South African Parliament) should be retained.

She indicated that the seminar was specifically meant for Members of Parliament. The seminar should not reopen discussions on the meeting of African Parliaments, however, the report of the meeting as well as other relevant documents should be made available to members.

The Deputy Speaker suggested that Session One should include a discussion on the Declaration of the meeting of African Parliaments and the resolutions of the 2nd AU Summit on the PAP.

Prof Turok indicated that there was a need for clarity on whether the deliberations of the seminar should be on the PAP's relationship with the other organs or the PAP's oversight over the AU organs. The Speaker indicated that there was a provision in some of the Protocols for the other organs of the AU to report to the PAP. There was a need, however, to consider the specific role that the PAP would perform in respect of all the AU organs. She said that the South African Parliament had a unique opportunity at this early stage to influence the form and nature of the PAP, with a view to making it a distinct body.

Mr Eglin said that there was a need for Parliament to hold the Executive accountable for its engagement in multilateral affairs. Parliamentary scrutiny of Executive actions, outside the borders of South Africa, was important. For instance, Parliament should be in a position to understand the implications for South Africa of the resolutions of the 2nd AU Summit. This was only possible if the Executive was held accountable for its participation in bodies such as the AU.

Prof Turok indicated that the matter being raised by Mr Eglin could be dealt with by the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Speaker disagreed and intimated that the question being raised was whether Parliament was in fact fulfilling its oversight responsibility over the Executive vis-à-vis international relations. She said that the proposal for a Joint Committee on AU/SADC was made in the context of a need for a mechanism to hold the Executive accountable. She expressed the concern that the opportunity for Members' Statements in the National Assembly was not being used by Members to raise issues of oversight, including holding the Executive accountable for its engagement in international forums. She made reference to a Declaration that was made at the time of the Millennium Summit and which was subsequently tabled before the UN General Assembly by Presiding Officers from about 167 Parliaments. The Declaration, among others, stated that international relations increasingly required a parliamentary dimension, which necessitated Parliaments to have a greater input in international issues. The Declaration was also tabled in Parliament but there it was never debated. Further, she pointed out that Parliament should have had a debate on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico before the meeting. It was important for Parliament to discuss the implications of world alliances that were being established globally on issues such as trade. She expressed the hope that the proposed Joint Committee would address some of the issues raised above. She added that these issues could in fact be put on the agenda of the Pan African Parliament for consideration in its proceedings. Prof Turok indicated that the Parliamentary delegation at the Cancun meeting would probably report on the WTO meeting.

The Speaker asked members to consider whether outside participants needed to be invited to the seminar. Both Prof A Bathily and Dr A Sall would be in Cape Town during the week of 23 September. However, the seminar would need to be held during the committee week. The debate on the PAP should also afford members an opportunity to raise issues that would be discussed in the seminar. Mr Eglin suggested that one of the AU Commissioners could be invited to make a presentation on the relationship of the PAP with the other organs of the AU. The Speaker responded that in principle she supported the view. She mentioned, however, she was weary about inviting many people to a one-day seminar. Members of Parliament should, themselves, be able to hold meaningful discussions on the issues stated in the programme.

 

Agreed:

  • The Executive Summary of the report of the meeting of African Parliaments to be tabled in the House.
  • Prof Bathily's and Dr Sall's papers that were submitted at the meeting of African Parliaments to be circulated in preparation for the seminar.
  • A discussion on regions as building blocks for the PAP to be incorporated into the programme.
  • The draft programme to be annotated.
  • A decision on resource people to be taken once the programme had been finalised.
  • The Seminar to be scheduled during the committee period and its duration to be decided once the programme had been finalised.
  • The logistical aspects and implications of Parliament's participation to be included in the programme (e.g accountability).
  • Parties to be informed of the seminar as soon as dates had been finalised.

4. Report of the Chairpersons of the Task Team on the Rules of the PAP

The Deputy Speaker presented the report of the chairpersons of the Task Team (Doc 1). She indicated that the Task Team had still to be properly constituted. The Chairpersons of the Task Team met to draft a work plan for the Task Team. Priority areas needing consideration for the first session of the PAP had been identified and the first category entailed areas on which rules needed to be drafted. The second category entailed issues that should be forwarded to the Steering Committee for consideration. She said that the chairpersons were of the view that there would, first, need to be rules of procedure for the inaugural session and, second, draft rules for a range of other matters. One of the priority structures that would probably need to be established at the inaugural session would be a rules/business committee. The office bearers of the PAP and the Steering Committee could constitute a management structure to consider appointments of staff. She requested that technical assistance (staff support) be made available for the Task Team.

The Speaker congratulated the chairpersons of the Task Team for the work plan. She indicated that two comprehensive sets of draft rules had been compiled. The one draft had been done by Mr P Lilienfeld and the other by the Deputy Clerk of the Kenyan Parliament. She indicated that at the meeting of the Steering Committee on 8 October she would not present a defined rule. The Task Team should, however, extract points from each of the draft rules with a view to providing a framework for an input into the discussions of the Steering Committee. The Task Team was therefore not being asked to produce new draft rules. The Steering Committee also had the responsibility to identify the areas on which rules would be needed for the first session. The AU Commission would on the request of the Steering Committee compile a set of draft rules for consideration by Parliaments.

Mr Eglin sought clarity on which body was responsible for the establishment of the PAP. The Speaker explained that the PAP Steering Committee was established to assist the AU Commission. The Chairperson of the Commission rather than the Steering Committee would therefore liaise with Parliaments regarding preparations for participation in the PAP.

She also stated that after its first meeting, the PAP would be self-perpetuating. The rules of procedure should also take this factor into account.

 

Agreed:

  • The Task Team to extract points from each of the draft rules which would provide a framework for an input into the discussions of the Steering Committee.
  • The Task Team to also conduct a comparative analysis of the Ecowas rules, East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) rules, Rules from Deputy Secretary of Kenya and Draft Rules by Mr P Lilienfeld.
  • The Task Team to deal with the principle/substance issues vis-à-vis the rules.
  • Members to make inputs to the Task Team.
  • The Assistant Secretary to ensure availability of technical assistance for the Task Team.
  • The Task Team to present its further report to the Working Group on Tuesday, 23 September 2003.
  • The issue around the administering of the oath of office as well as mechanisms for the election of the five presiding officers to be prioritised.
  • Parliament to also prepare draft rules, for a later stage.
  • The draft rules to also cater for situations where there was an absence of a regional candidate for the vice presidency.
  • The Management structure of the PAP to also deal with the process of appointing staff for the PAP.

5. Africa Peer Review Mechanism

The Speaker indicated that a report on the above matter was still awaited from the Department of Foreign Affairs. She indicated that Prof Turok's report had been made available to members.

 

Agreed:

  • The Nepad brochure to be circulated.

The meeting adjourned at 09:45.

 

Appendix

[Doc 1]

1. INTRODUCTION

The Task Team on the Rules of the PAP was established by the Working Group on AU on 9 September 2003 to consider priority areas on which Rules of Procedure need to be formulated; to identify general Rules of Procedure for the PAP and to conduct a comparative analysis of the Rules drafted by Mr Peter Lilienfeld and those drafted by the Deputy Clerk of the Kenyan Parliament.

The Chairpersons of the Task Team met on Friday, 12 September and Monday, 15 September respectively to formulate a work programme. The following are the proposals of the Chairpersons of the Task Team.

 

 

2. DRAFT RULES ARE REQUIRED FOR THE FOLLOWING PRIORITY AREAS:

  1. Election of Office Bearers
  2. Rules of Debate
  3. Rules for Decision Making
  4. Regional Caucuses (There must be time set aside for regional caucuses)
  5. Committee Structure (In-House):
    • Rules/Business Committee
    • Budget committee
    • Programming of business

vi) A Management Structure

A draft oath and swearing-in process would need consideration.

 

3. POINTS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION BY THE PAP STEERING COMMITTEE

  1. Agenda for the first meeting.
  2. How does PAP deal with the "substance issues"/political content of its work?

including "portfolio" committees.

  1. Who pays for the allowance of members of PAP?
  2. Role of the chairperson of the AU in administering the oath.
  3. Accreditation issues in terms of the PAP protocol.
  4. Who comes to the inaugural session? Only countries that have ratified or all member states of the AU?
  5. A set of draft PAP Rules to be agreed upon, for circulation to Member States for consideration/comment.
  6. Staffing requirements for inaugural session.

 

4. PROPOSED DATES FOR TASK TEAM MEETINGS:

Thursday, 18 September 2003: 18h00-20h00

Tuesday, 23 September 2003: 16h30-19h00

Thursday, 25 September 2003: 18:15-20h15

 

5. PROPOSED PROCESS FOR DRAFTING PRIORITY RULES

  1. Task Team identifies issues for inclusion and presents to AU Working Group.
  2. ii) Drafters prepare a draft.

  3. Task Team considers and prepares final draft for presentation to AU Working Group.

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