Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Pan African Parliament

Starting next week in South Africa is the third sitting of the Pan African Parliament (PAP). On the agenda, other than housekeeping and administrative issues, are the following items:

Peace and Security in Africa: (i) Darfur (ii) Report by African Union

Consideration and Approval of the 2005 PAP Work Plan

Report on the implementation of NEPAD's African Peer Review Mechanism

Towards Achieving UN Millennium development goals in Africa

Debate and resolutions on the reform of the UN Security Council

Resolving communication and transport problems in Africa

Special report by the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment.

PAP is an expensive exercise. As one of the South African taxpayers helping to fund PAP, I wouldn’t mind paying the money if we got concrete results in terms of entrenching democracy and the rule of law in countries that refuse to conform. But it’s difficult to trust in leaders who lack legitimacy. How can you have a situation in a supposedly democratic regional parliament when many of the countries sitting on the parliament pay no attention to fundamental democratic principals in their own backyards? Are we then supposed to take this Parliament seriously? South Africa is a regional super power, yet for some reason which no-one can really fathom, our government does nothing about Zimbabwe or Swaziland. The AU Peer Review Mechanism is a good idea, but what’s the point when it’s voluntary and not compulsory?

Those are the negative views that I have, yet on the other hand there is a nagging feeling inside of me that says don’t be so quick to write PAP off as just another talk shop. I mean, surely something positive must emerge. It is the beginning of putting structures in place for something that could one day become a powerful and meaningful institution. I think also possibly in terms of discussions around poverty eradication and development PAP could already be in the process of making a meaningful contribution.


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