The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) makes history as it unanimously adopts its rules of procedure
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has during its sitting yesterday adopted amendments to its Rules of Procedure, which marks a turning point in how the 18-year-old continental legislature will be conducting its business.
The adoption of the amended rules by the First Ordinary Session of the PAP’s sixth Parliament on thursday, marks a historic occasion as it is the first time that these five Regional Caucuses (Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western regions) unanimously, and through consensus, agreed to speak with one voice.
In the past the Eastern and Western Regional Caucuses used their majority to ensure that during elections their candidates are voted for and their interests carried through popular vote when there were differing views.
However, during this session the Bureau and the Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses met regularly to discuss and build consensus to ensure that the decisions taken on the amendment of the Rules was conducted in a spirit of collegiality.
The PAP Rules of Procedure were first adopted in September 2004 with the first amendments taking place in October 2011. Following the election of the new Bureau in June this year and the strategic reorientation workshop held in August under the theme, “Reviving, Renewing, Repositioning and Reinvigorating the Pan African Parliament”, the PAP identified the amendment of the Rules of Procedure as a key priority area.
Some of the new rules that have been adopted includes the changes to Rule 14 which has been amended to apply the African Union rules and values, including the principle of geographical rotation among the five regions of Africa, in election of Members of the Bureau;
Rule 7 which provides for holding the declaration of a vacancy in abeyance until it is confirmed that a Member holding that position is not re-designated or re-elected by a National Parliament;
Sub-rule 12 of Rule 16 to ensure that at least two of the five Member Bureau are female; and providing for the Chairperson of a Member’s regional caucus to temporarily fill his or her ‘vacancy’until the electoral process in the Members country are concluded.
Parliament delegate to the PAP and Chairperson of the PAP Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline, Mr Thembekile Majola, said the PAP identified the need to review and update its Rules of Procedure in order to ensure that they are fully reflective of its progression; the evolving needs of the PAP and the need to provide for the regulation of Virtual Sittings of the PAP and its various organs.
“The amended Rules of Procedure will help address the challenges faced by the PAP and its organs over the past 18 years of implementing the (old) Rules of Procedure,” said Mr Majola – who represents the Democratic Alliance in the National Assembly (NA) - adding that the amendments will give the PAP more powers to operate as they will guide how it conducts its business going forward.
Presenting Southern Africa’s support for the motion to adopt the amendments, Regional Caucus Chairperson Ms Pemmy Majodina, said it was unfortunate that despite 18 years of existence as a Parliament the PAP was not yet at the level where it inspired confidence for other continental bodies to learn from it.
“To put it bluntly Your Excellencies, we have been regressing for years. We must seize this glorious opportunity to go back to where we belong,” said Ms Majodina, who is the Chief Whip of the Majority Party in the NA.
She said it was an anomaly that the PAP, as the legislative organ of the African Union, was lagging behind the continent’s Regional Parliaments such as the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) and the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA).
“The PAP, as the Continental Parliament and the Legislative Organ of the African Union, should be a source of knowledge and a fountain from which the Regional Parliamentary Bodies are drinking,” she said.
The First Ordinary Session of the PAP’s sixth Parliamentis currently happening at the PAP headquarters in Midrand until 12 November 2022. Activities scheduled during the session includes the two-day 13th Conference on Women’s Rights (which kicked off thursday); a debate on Africa and the Arab League; a debate on the report on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement; a debate on the report on the monitoring of Agenda 2063 and on the role of the PAP; and the adoption of PAP Model laws.