Midrand, South Africa: Speakers of regional and African Parliaments have converged in Midrand, South Africa to push for a speedy ratification, domestication and implementation of African Union treaties, particularly the new Protocol of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
The Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the AU on the PAP was adopted by the assembly of the Union in June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, with major revisions to the original Protocol of 2001.
The amendments relate to compulsory representation of women from one out of five designated Members of Parliament per country to two women members.
It provides for election of Parliamentarians to the PAP outside the membership of national parliaments. More importantly, the new Protocol seeks to see PAP move away from being merely a consultative and advisory organ to one with full legislative functions.
The tenure of a PAP Member would also not be tied to the national Parliaments.
Speaking to the heads of African legislatures on Thursday, 4th August 2016, PAP President, Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang, said there was a slow pace of ratification of instruments of the AU.
“I invite you to sensitise within your countries and to ratify all the instruments needed, in particular, the Malabo Protocol for it will be an act of faith in the PAP,” he said.
Ratification is a sovereign act by a state to decide to submit itself to an international text. It is also a commitment to implement the text fully.
His Excellency Pakalitha Mosisili, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, said the new Protocol was a clear manifestation of Africa’s desire to move from rhetoric to action.
“We eagerly await the day when the African Parliament will attain full legislative powers as embodied in the constitutive act of the AU relating to the PAP,” the Premier said adding, “The road to that destination shouldn’t be a hurried affair.”
However, the new Protocol already has hurdles to overcome. A cross-section of Speakers from Zimbabwe, Zambia and ECOWAS among others are concerned that African presidents will be reluctant to surrender part of their sovereignty to a supra Parliament with full legislative authority.
They said PAP would then have to legislate on only model laws or in areas that are not controversial.
Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, said the new Protocol would only come into force if nation states agree to cede their sovereignty.
“The power to legislate is a very key issue of governance and it has an impact on the local population. It also means that nation states have to adhere to the laws made at continental level. So, there is a potential for conflict,” Kadaga said.
The PAP Protocol can only come into force after deposit of the instruments of ratification by a simple majority of 28 AU Members states. So far, the revised Protocol has received 10 signatures with only two ratifications by Mali and Sierra Leone. It should also be noted that out of the 60 legal instruments adopted by the AU assembly since its inception, only 34 are currently in force.
It is hoped that the coming into force of the new Protocol will significantly improve PAP’s ability to address topical issues affecting the African continent such as intra-African trade, trans-border movement of people and goods, anti-terrorism responses, peace and security issues.
The Conference, whose theme is “From adoption to ratification of the African Union Treaties, in particular the New Protocol of the Pan-African Parliament: What are the gains for Africa?” is not only being attended by Speakers from African Parliaments but PAP Members as well.
Uganda’s delegation to PAP include: Hon. Jacquiline Amongin (NRM, Ngora); Prof. Ogenga Latigo (FDC, Agago North); Hon. Anifa Bangirana Kawooya (NRM, Ssembabule); Hon. Felix Okot Ogong (NRM, Dokolo South) and Hon. Babirye Kadogo (Ind. Buyende).