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

Working Group on African Union

22 September 2003
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Meeting report

WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION (National Assembly)
23 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 the PAP Steering Committee would meet on 8 and 9 October 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Chairperson of the AU Commission would be present at the meeting. The South African High Commission in Addis Ababa is also arranging meetings with the different commissioners of the AU. She indicated that offers for the Seat of the PAP would be considered by the Assembly at the Extra Ordinary Summit in February 2003. The Steering Committee would have before it a proposal to write to the Chairperson of the AU asking him to convene the PAP, and for the inaugural session to be held in January 2003. The Steering Committee would also consider preparations for the inaugural session. Documents that would be required for the inaugural session would included the Oath, rules for the election of Presiding Officers, provisions for the functioning of regional caucuses.

The Steering Committee would need to circulate draft rules as well as the draft programme for the inaugural session to Parliaments for comment. The proposals of the Working Group should assist the Steering Committee. However Parliaments would still need to take decisions on these issues. These issues should be factored into the Parliamentary programme. She indicated that the Ninth report would be tabled on the same day.

The Speaker explained that the idea was to focus the debate on the PAP rather than on abstracts. She said that either she or the Deputy Speaker would introduce the debate. The Deputy suggested that the debate be not confined to preparations. She proposed that the debate should also cover a wide range of issues regarding the establishment of the PAP. Mr Seremane suggested that the debate serve as an informative instrument to equip the broad base of Parliament. The Speaker indicated that the vision documents emanating from the meeting of African Parliaments had been circulated to assist members in their preparations.

Report of the Task Team of PAP Rules

Mr Mahlagu reported on behalf of the Task Team, as follows:

The Oath or solemn declaration

According to the Protocol, the oath should be an addendum to the Protocol. The Task Team considered various options regarding the administering of the oath. The one option was that the Chairperson of the Assembly of the AU should administer it. The other option was that the Chairperson of the Commission should perform this function. The Task Team preferred the Chairperson of the Assembly for the administering of the oath.

  • Who will administer the taking of the Oath or making of a solemn declaration?

Various options can be considered amongst which are the President of the African Union or the Chairperson of the Commission. According to Rule 14 of the Kenyan Draft "the Clerk shall preside at all elections of Parliament, including the administration of Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance."

The Task team suggested, however, that the Chairperson of the African Union

administers the initial taking of the Oath or making solemn declaration, as the inauguration is a continental ceremony. However, a rule must provide for the administering of the Oath or declaration thereafter with regard to new members as it will be a continuous process.

  • How will the taking of the Oath or making of a solemn declaration be done?

The Task team felt that this process does not require a rule, and is purely a logistical question. Members could be called up in groups of ten, with an acknowledgement of the countries from which members come.

.

2. ELECTION OF OFFICE BEARERS

Article 12.2 of the Protocol

The Pan-African 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 four (4) 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.

2.1 Procedures of Nominating

  • Should there be a formal procedure at regional level for purposes of nomination?

The Task Team expressed the view that the Pan African Parliament should not be prescriptive to regions with regards to nominations.

With reference to time frames, Kenya (Rule 16.4) suggests that the names of candidates for election be entered upon nomination papers forty-eight hours before the time appointed to elect an Officer. The East African Legislative Assembly (Rule 7.3) has the same procedure. The Task Team felt that it is difficult to stipulate a time limit at this point, but a time limit is preferred as the ballot papers would have to be prepared timeously. Details of the nominations process can be sent to all regions from the AU Commission. It would be important to record on the nomination form whether the candidate accepts his/her nomination.

A further issue for consideration is whether there should be a fixed number of persons who support the nomination of the said candidate.

  • Who administers the nomination at continental level?

It was suggested that the Commission of the AU deals with all administrative matters of this kind.

  • We need guidance from the Department of Foreign Affairs as to what the position is as regards a host country wishing to nominate a candidate or being nominated by another country.
  • What is the procedure in the absence of regional nominations?

The Task Team felt that in the absence of a regional nomination, members from other regions should be free to make nominations from the defaulting region.

(The Department of Foreign Affairs will give guidelines in this regard until such time

that the PAP is in place.)

    1. Method of Voting

It was agreed that procedures are required for the following areas:

  • Ballot for election of President and Vice Presidents
  • Results of Voting
  • Reporting of Result
  • Procedure if there is no successful candidate
  • Taking of Chair by President

(Speaker's Comment: The Method of Voting is a Procedural matter, no rules are required.)

2.3 Consideration should be given to a situation that could arise should there be a query of the
election results. Will provision be made for an auditor? The Task Team felt that there
might not be a need for such a provision in the rules.

2.4 Are elections to be conducted by an independent body? The Task Team expressed a view
that the AU Commission could facilitate the administration of the election.

2.5 Consideration should be given to whether Members from countries who have not
ratified would be allowed to attend the inaugural session and whether they would be
allowed to vote.
(Speaker's Comment: According to International Law only countries that have ratified the

Protocol can make decisions and stand for office.)

 

3. RULES FOR DECISION MAKING

Article 12: Subsection 11 & 12

The quorum for a meeting of the Pan-African Parliament shall be constituted by a simple majority.

Each Pan-African Parliamentarian shall have one vote. Decisions shall be made by consensus or, failing which, by a two-thirds majority of all the Members present and voting. However, procedural matters, including the question of whether a matter is one of the procedure or not, shall be decided by a simple majority of those present and voting, unless otherwise stipulated in the Rules of Procedure. In the event of an equal number of votes, the person presiding shall have a casting vote.

3.1 Voting Procedure
Rules are required for the following:-

3.1.1 Declaration of Vote

3.1.2 Manner of Voting on Specific Questions


3.1.3 What happens should there not be consensus?

 

4. RULES OF DEBATE
Rules are required for the following:-

4.1 Address of Chair by Members

4.2 Calling of Members

4.3 Time Limits for Speeches

4.4 Reference to Member by name

4.5 Offensive Language

4.6 Explanations

4.7 Points of Order/Interruption of Debates and Speeches

4.10 Rights of Members to Speak

4.11 Debate closed

4.12 Scope of Debate

4.13Conduct of Members during Debate

4.14 Role of President in Debate

4.15 Disciplinary Powers

4.16 Freedom of Speech

5. REGIONAL CAUCUSES

Article 18 of the Protocol

The Relationship between the Pan-African Parliament and the Parliaments of Regional Economic Communities and National Parliaments or other Deliberative Organs.

The Pan-African Parliament shall work in close co-operation with the Parliaments of the Regional Economic Communities and the National Parliaments or other deliberative organs of Member States. To this effect, the Pan-African Parliament may, in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, convene annual consultative for a with the Parliaments of the Regional Economic Communities and the National Parliaments or other deliberative organs to discuss mattes of common interest.

5.1 Are existing regional parliamentary assemblies/fora going to be used or are separate

regional caucuses to be formed?

    1. Functions of regional caucuses regarding Pan African Parliament.

The Task Team suggested that no rule be drafted but that there ought to be a provision for an arrangement for regional caucuses to meet and discuss issues.

6. COMMITTEES

Article 12.13 of the Protocol

The Pan-African Parliament may establish such committees, as it deems fit, for the proper discharge of its functions and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure.

Rules are required on the following:-

    1. Types of Committees (Internal Committees)

Rules are required for a Business Committee, Budget Committee, Programme Committee and Accreditation Committee.

(Rules for the Budget, Programming and Business Committees are required. The Task Team should consider what other Committees are required, stipulating functions thereof.)

6.2 Composition (Member Parliaments or Regional Structures)

6.3 Terms of Reference

6.4 Terms of Office

6.5 Quorums

6.6 Decisions

6.7 Meetings

6.8 Reporting

6.9 Powers and Functions

    1. Publication or Disclosure of Proceedings, Evidence, Reports, etc

 

7. POLITICAL MANAGEMENT STRUCTURES

  • A political/management structure should be in place after the election of the Bureau to ensure that the Bureau is supported. It would be vital for the AU Commision to give consideration to this question.
  • The Process of the appointment of Clerk and Deputy Clerk would need to be discussed at the inaugural session
  • It was noted that as per the Protocol, the staff of the AU Commission would support the Bureau until such time as the Pan African Parliament staff are appointed.

 

8. LANGUAGES

  • Are languages of the African Union going to be used? The Task Team suggested that the Pan African Parliament operates on the basis of Article 25 of the Constitutive Act, which makes provision for if possible, African languages, Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. Swahili has subsequently been added.
  • Consideration for Sign Language and Braille should given.

 

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.

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