Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Pan African Parliament set to make impact

In African culture, 'your brother is your brother.


by Hans Pienaar
May 03 2006 at 09:33AM

"We're getting there," was the message from the feisty president of the Pan African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, on the opening of its fifth session.

After four years of finding its feet, the parliament would soon start "doing things", she said at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Tuesday.

Guest speaker Senator Raynell Andreychuk, from Canada, concurred, saying the practical approach setting in, work plans being drawn up and the clear objectives were all good signals.

Mongella said that whereas a strategic plan was adopted last year, the PAP has taken the crucial further step of establishing committees to draw up the work plans based on the strategic plan in March and April.

In African culture, 'your brother is your brother.'

She also announced that a trust fund initiated at the previous session in November was in the final stages of registration.

The lack of funds remained the biggest gripe on the podium and in the corridors of the parliament. But after Mongella had addressed the African Union heads of state assembly in Khartoum in April, it resolved to "revise upwards the current allocation of $5,8-million" (about R35-million) for the PAP budget.

She said the hope was that the five-year budget would still reach the $10-million originally requested at the first session.

Some welcome colour was added by the swearing-in of new members from Somalia. Whereas other new delegates were business-like, the nervous Somalians stumbled over the wording of the text of allegiance, and one woman MP was so overcome, she hugged Mongella several times in the chair.

At a press briefing, Mongella was asked how a country without its own stable government or parliament could supply delegates to the PAP.

Mongella said it was a decision of the PAP parent body, the African Union. And, anyway, in African culture, "your brother is your brother".

"We don't throw them out, we bring them closer so that we can solve problems."

The idea was to expose them to circumstances where they would be encouraged to look like democratic countries such as South Africa and Mauritius.

Besides, the international community had worked so hard at bringing peace in Somalia, the delegation had to be welcomed to the PAP, she said.

Andreychuk said the PAP had a blueprint to work from and it could perhaps emerge as a model for others to follow. She said there was a worldwide phenomenon of executives usurping more authority.

"It is crucial that the PAP understand its role of oversight of the African Union. Citizens are demanding more of parliaments in this respect."

PAP delegates have shown themselves in the past to be willing to take on even its own parent, the AU.

But, confronted with allegations of harassment of journalists in Gambia, where the next African Union summit is to be held in July, Mongella cautioned that the PAP was only an advisory body.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on May 03, 2006


Last Updated May 4, 2006 9:50 AM

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