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WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN UNION (National Assembly)
19 November 2003
These minutes were produced kind courtesy of Mr M Xaso of the Table Staff.
Chair: Dr F Ginwala
Deputy Chairperson (NCOP)
Cassim, M F
Davies, R H
Geldenhuys, B L
Madasa, Z L
Mathee, P A (NCOP)
Mbuyazi, L R
Van Wyk, A
Vilakazi, J N (NCOP)
Apologies: Jordan Z P; Mars, I; Mtsweni, N; Seremane, J.
Staff in attendance: Meyer, L (Assistant Secretary); Jenkins, F and Lenzie, D (Parliamentary Law Advice Office); Xaso, M (NA Table); Mansura, K (NA Table); Ismail, N (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).
The Speaker reported on a meeting she held with Ms J Joiner, the AU Commissioner responsible for Political Affairs, and the Legal Adviser of the Commission to discuss developments around the establishment of the PAP. She mentioned that it was the intention of the Commission that the Inaugural Session be held in the 3rd or 4th week of January 2004. The Chairperson of the Commission, H.E A O Konare, was currently consulting President J Chissano, Chairperson of the AU, regarding the dates for the Inaugural Session and confirmation of the venue. She explained that she had attended the meeting in her personal capacity and not with any particular mandate from the Steering Committee. The Commission has since recommended that a meeting of the Steering Committee be held on 8 and 9 December 2003. Parliaments have also been asked to elect their 5 members to serve in the Pan African Parliament and submit the names by 30 November 2003 to the AU Commission. The delegations from Parliaments would need to comply with the requirements of the Protocol in terms of representativity. She reminded the meeting of the following provisions of the Protocol:
- Each Member State shall be represented in the Pan African Parliament by 5
- Parliamentarians, at least one of whom shall be a woman (Article 4 .1);
-The representation of each Parliament shall reflect the diversity of political opinions in each national Parliament or other deliberative organ (Article 4.2).
The Commission had indicated that a Credentials Committee would be set up before the Inaugural Session. This Committee would not accredit any delegation that failed to conform with the stipulated requirements of the Protocol. Parliaments have also been asked to recommend the nature of debate that would be held at the Inaugural Session. The Legal Office of the Commission had been asked to clarify the following issues:
The meaning of a deliberative organ as provided for in the Protocol.
Whether members of the PAP must be elected members of National Parliaments or could they come from those appointed/nominated.
Whether the Office of the Presiding Officer vests in the individual country or region eg. when a vacancy occurs will it be filled by the country or the region.
Clarity on the above issues had been sought in order to set a proper legal basis for the Pan African Parliament. During the brainstorming session of the Commission, held around the same time as the Speaker's meeting with Ms Joiner, the important role that the PAP would play in promoting democracy on the continent was emphasised.
2. Establishment of the Pan African Parliament
The Speaker reported that sufficient countries had ratified the Pan African Parliament Protocol for it to come into force and for the PAP to be established. This development has made it possible for the decision of the 2nd Summit of the AU held in Maputo that provided for the establishment of the PAP by 31 January 2004 to be implemented. The PAP Protocol required ratification by a simple majority of Member States that were party to the original AEC Treaty which provided for the Pan African Parliament. There are 47 states that are signatories to that Treaty and therefore 24 instruments of ratification were required. On 14 November 2003, Senegal deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby enabling the Protocol to enter into force 30 days from that date. The Speaker clarified that in terms of the OAU Charter the African continent consisted of 5 geographical regions. The 16 regional economic blocks (including SADC and ECOWAS) were not recognised as the geographical regions on the continent. The AU would in due course be rationalizing these regions. The Speaker explained that the Inaugural Session would probably be held in Addis Ababa, however, confirmation by the Chairperson of the AU was still awaited. The permanent seat of the PAP would be decided by the Assembly of the Heads of State at a later stage.
3. Election of 5 members of the PAP
The Speaker explained that as the members would represent Parliament, rather than a particular House, the NCOP would also be included in the delegation. Both the Constitution and the Rules, however, make no provision for a decision in joint sitting. The Houses would therefore elect the PAP members separately. In addition, because of time constraints, it would be difficult to convene a joint sitting for the election.
The House had endorsed, by adopting the Eight Report, the recommendation of the Working Group that 3 of the 5 members of the delegation be women. The option put forward by the Working Group was that 3 of the five members would come from the ANC and 2 from the Opposition. She suggested that the Opposition could agree on the names beforehand, failing which, nominations could be made in the House thereby subjecting the candidates to an election process. The need for the delegation to represent Parliament rather than their parties was emphasised. Mr Eglin proposed the formation of a small committee of the whippery consisting of both ANC and Opposition members to process the nomination of delegates.
The Working Group to table a report in the course of the week (week of 17 November 2003) among others, requesting the House to elect the 5 members.
2 women members to come from the ANC and 1 from the Opposition.
Parties could forward more than the prescribed numbers of delegates (in terms of the proposed formula) to enable an election to take place in the House.
The election to take place in the Assembly on Wednesday, 26 November 2003, to coincide with Questions to the President.
The report to the House to state the need for parties to discuss the composition of the delegation and the election process.
Adv Madasa sought clarity on the inclusion of the NCOP in the delegation. He expressed his understanding that only the National Assembly had competency over international relations. He pointed out that it was necessary in this regard to clarify the purpose for which the NCOP was elected, adding that the NCOP, unlike the Assembly, represented provinces. Mr Eglin clarified that members of the Pan African Parliament would represent their countries rather than a specific House. The Speaker intimated that there were inherent contradictions in the Constitution as regards the roles of the two Houses, adding that the NCOP was not involved in the election of neither the President nor the Ministers. These matters would need to be addressed in time as part of the functions of the Constitutional Review Committee and the Parliamentary Law Advisers should also continue to explore this issue.
She indicated that it could be proposed that with regard to the NCOP, only permanent delegates should be included in the delegation.
4. Oath of Office
The Draft Oaths/Solemn Declaration [Annexure H] from the Commission for both members of the PAP and Presiding Officers were circulated. Among others, the draft Oath contained the following: I will promote adherence to the principles of good governance, democracy, human rights, international humanitarian law, peace, stability and all objectives of the Pan African Parliament and will not seek or receive instructions from any authority external to Parliament.
Ms Hajaig indicated that this provision could be contradictory with the Oath of Office that members take when they become members of Parliament. Adv Madasa intimated that the Oath might have been formulated in that manner because of the fact that members to the PAP would eventually be directly elected. The Speaker responded that the PAP Protocol would be reviewed after five years and a decision on direct elections may only be taken then.
Law Advisers and members to consider the Oath with a view to finding a formulation that would accommodate the principle of recall without constraining the functioning of members.
A recommendation on the Oath to be made prior to the meeting of the Steering Committee scheduled for 8 and 9 December 2003.
The Speaker indicated that the Pan African Parliament would need to choose from amongst itself 5 Presiding Officers: a President and 4 Vice-Presidents. One would have to come from each region. She pointed out the need for a mechanism for the nomination and election process of Presiding Officers. She asked members to consider whether each of the 5 regions would simply nominate somebody thereby having Presiding Officers who represent regions or whether the desired outcome would be to have 5 Presiding Officers who individually, as well as collectively, speak on behalf of the entire Continent and of the entire Pan African Parliament. She indicated that if regions were to simply propose 1 name each, the election could become just a formality. There was a need to set procedures and interpretations regarding the Protocol that would give the PAP a particular character.
[A document titled "procedure for taking the Oath and the nomination and election of Presiding Officers" was circulated]
Members to consider the document as circulated and give feedback at the next meeting of the Working Group.
5. Accountability Mechanisms: Establishment of Committee on African Union
The Speaker indicated that Parliament should also consider how the five members of the PAP would report. There was a need to provide for a mechanism in the form of a committee to interact with the PAP members. The Working Group had previously recommended the establishment of a Committee, before the Inaugural Session of the PAP, to process and deal with issues emanating from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF). The Committee would also discuss mandates and receive reports from the members with a view to tabling them. She explained that there were delays in establishing the SADC Parliament. The Heads of State had asked for a motivation on the necessity of a regional Parliament in light of the coming into being of the Pan African Parliament. The proposed Committee would include both Houses (Joint Committee). She replied to Mr Cassim's concern regarding difficulty in convening meetings of joint committees that the committee would need to set a strict schedule and members would be expected to attend.
A Committee (Joint) on the African Union to be established as previously proposed and agreed to by the House when it adopted the Eighth Report.
The terms of reference of the Committee as suggested in the Eighth Report be amended to exclude the SADC-PF and SADC Parliament, pending developments in that regard.
The Houses to establish the Committee by way of a resolution and the composition (formula) of the Committee to be decided at a later stage.
The resolution establishing the Committee to be formulated such that there is continuity (no vacuum) before it becomes operational.
The 5 members of the PAP to be members of the Joint Committee.
The meeting adjourned at 10:05.
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