28 June 2022
Excellency Naledi Pandor, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa
Honorable Pan-African Parliamentarians,
Ambassador Bankolé Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and a poignant sense of solemnity that I take the floor today in this high place of African parliamentarism. In this hemicycle where the voice of the African peoples is freely expressed, I send you my warmest fraternal greetings.
Your massive presence at this session, the importance of which escapes no one, alone proves the gravity of the moment and gives the measure of the expectations and hopes tied around the session which opens this morning.
Established under Article 2 of the Protocol relating to the African Economic Community adopted in Sirte in Libya on March 2, 2001, the Pan-African Parliament, despite the immense hopes it aroused, has remained in search of its true anchorage and efficient functionality.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union has given it a privileged place in the institutional architecture of our Union. I recognize, however, that despite this declared desire of our Heads of State to position it in third place after the Conference of Heads of State and Government and the Executive Council, the Pan-African Parliament has remained essentially consultative, quite keen on away from the requirements of an active and law-creating institution. The full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent through it has remained below expectations. Honorable Pan-African parliamentarians, we and our governments have a long way to go here so that you can, as reason and wisdom dictate,
Need I stress that this noble mission is precisely the one that dictates the ethics and moral virtues that must inspire your actions, your behavior and your political strategies.
It is known and recognized that parliaments, throughout the world, are high places of debate and confrontation of ideas. These debates can, here and there, from time to time, take on a more or less stormy character. Debating and not fighting is the hallmark of parliamentary life.
In certain circumstances, the most established social codes and norms of behavior can be challenged in abrupt, brutal and unexpected ways. It is not useless to remind one and all of the duties of moderation, weighting, sense of proportion, self-control which must, at all times, be the prerogative of personalities belonging to such an honorable and prestigious institution.
The unfortunate events that occurred in this hemicycle on May 27 and June 30, 2021 on the occasion of the aborted elections for the office of the Pan-African Parliament have cast great discredit on the image of this institution and that of the whole continent. The unbearable scenes broadcast by television channels and in social networks have moved African citizens dumbfounded by such a lowering of Parliament. These acts of transgression and dishonor have been condemned across the continent.
In my capacity as legal representative of the Union and guarantor of the proper functioning of all its organs and institutions, I then asked, all business ceased, for the suspension of parliamentary activities until further notice. Of course, in this type of situation, it is always advisable to make allowances and to establish the responsibilities of each other.
Obviously, not all parliamentarians participated in the brawls of May 27 and June 30, 2021. Many of you condemned these excesses and dissociated yourself from them. It is to be congratulated. This is the place to recall that we find in this parliament high personalities who are part of the cream of the African political elite: presidents of national assemblies, presidents of the Senate, former prime ministers, former ministers, presidents of national parliamentary groups and many others. The scenes recalled above must have broken their hearts.
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,
The time has come to definitively turn these sad and dark pages in the history of the Pan-African Parliament and to distribute on the right foot. The time has therefore come to reconnect with the noble behaviors which have long characterized Pan-African parliamentarians and which have made the African Union proud. The time has finally come for fraternal dialogue, in a peaceful climate, to take precedence over confrontation.
The resumption of parliamentary activities so desired by the overwhelming majority of you obviously requires the election of a new office. This election has already caused much ink to flow. The five regional caucuses spoke at length during the consultations held here in Midrand for the Southern Africa caucus and in Addis Ababa for the Central, North, East and East Africa caucuses. West. The positions of each other are known in particular on the principle of rotation. The legal debate on this issue is healthy and useful.
I would like here to be clear and sincere with all of you.
It is in fact regrettable that the protocol instituting the rotation has not yet entered into force, for lack of a sufficient number of ratifications. From a strictly legal point of view, this is not without effect. Obviously.
It is also undeniable that rotation is a fundamental principle of fairness and justice. It governs most of our institutions.
You all know how the Conference of Heads of State and Government had to cancel and rerun the elections for the position of Director General of AUDA NEPAD for the simple fact that all the candidates who came out on top were from the region of the outgoing Director.
So, I ask you clearly what should be preferred? Legal formalism resulting from delays in ratifying a text or attachment to a founding principle? What do we stick to? Form or substance in this controversy?
At this turning point in the history of our continent, it seems more relevant to me to stick to the essentials. And the main thing is to come together around our convergences by minimizing our differences, the main thing is to align ourselves behind our ideals of solidarity, sharing and harmony in order to better prepare ourselves to face the challenges together. enormous challenges facing our continent: health challenges with the Covid 19 pandemic and its serious economic and social consequences; security challenge with the continuous progression of terrorism and its procession of deaths and shattered lives; climate challenge with the terrible drought and the multiple floods that hit certain parts of the continent, causing desolation and despair; food challenge with the already visible consequences of the war in Ukraine;
These multiple challenges challenge to the highest point the conscience of the representatives of the African peoples that you are. Faced with these colossal challenges and the need for general mobilization, the African Union cannot afford the luxury of a continuing crisis within one of its key organs.
The Pan-African Parliament must put itself in battle order to become resolutely involved in advocating for the continent.
Decisions 1128 and 1148 taken by the Executive Council and approved by the Conference of Heads of State and Government prescribe the holding of elections to the bureau of the Pan-African Parliament according to the principle of rotation to allow those of the two regions that have not yet chaired the office to do so. These decisions are not aimed at erasing the legal texts in force within Parliament. Their only and ultimate objective is to enable the unblocking of a situation that has become untenable. They must be respected and applied. An exceptional situation, an exceptional solution. It is a question of the responsibility of last resort of the supreme organ of the Union which is the Conference of Heads of State and Government. It is only a great honor to apply it.
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,
In doing so, there will be no winners or losers. It will be a collective victory, the victory of reason, self-transcendence and fair play, the victory of the Africa we want.
Africa will not be built by Manichean majorities. Nor by Pyrrhic victories. Even less to the cries according to me, the deluge.
Africa will triumph by transcending what Mandela called the human fragilities of selfishness, the inability to forgive and the spirit of revenge.
Let us together honor his memory, especially here in South Africa.
Honorable Pan-African parliamentarians, I therefore invite you to go to the polls en masse tomorrow, June 29, 2022 to fulfill your electoral duty and thus open a new page in the life of your institution and in the forward march of our continental organization in view of the triumph ideals of Pan-Africanism so dear to our Founding Fathers.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Photo Credit: AUC/ PAN