Story by Gilbert Borketey Boyefio

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) of the African Union have concluded a successful two-day Joint Retreat, with both parties pledging to work towards a framework for effective institutional collaboration.

Members of the PAP and the PRC have agreed to explore ways to harmonize working methods and define areas of synergies between the two organs.

These synergies seek to enable the PAP to effectively promote and oversee the implementation of Agenda 2063 and its flagship projects at the continental and national levels.

Discussions during the two-day retreat further revolved around the PAP’s collaboration with all AU stakeholders, including the relevant Special Technical Committees and other organs such as AUDA-NEPAD and APRM.

The joint retreat resulted in several key recommendations, which will be fine-tuned in January 2023 before the conclusions of this critical consultation are presented to the Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in February 2023.

The proposed recommendations covered various aspects including financial and administrative support to the PAP and the legal status of Members of Parliament. The retreat also extensively engaged in the core business, institutional legal framework, and deliverables of the PAP with a view to ensuring increased participation of African citizens and civil society, as well as the African diaspora in the affairs of the Union.

Additionally, the meeting envisaged stronger ties with the PRC to enable the Continental Parliament to be more visible and proactive in promoting ratification, domestication, and implementation of AU treaties.

Furthermore, Parliamentarians and African Ambassadors to the AU gathered in Johannesburg to tackle the issue of African Union Election Observation Missions (AUEOM).

The engagements focused on the status accorded to African Parliamentarians in these missions, in line with the mandate of the continental Parliament to promote democracy and good governance.

In line with an Executive Council decision taken in February 2010, the PAP and the African Union Commission, through the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, participate in joint AUEOM. The decision provides for the PAP to contribute 40% of observers, as well as cooperation between staff from both organs in the organisation of the missions.

The retreat, which got underway on Monday, December 19, was officially opened by Hon. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, who addressed participants under the theme “The Role of the Pan-African Parliament in the Integration and Economic Development of Africa: Giving Full Effect to the Dream of the African Union Founding Fathers”.

The gathering convened with the aim of finding solutions for several challenges experienced by the PAP in the fulfillment of its mandate. A notable challenge for PAP over the last three years has been significant budgetary constraints, an issue that was discussed at length during the Retreat.

Despite being hamstrung by a shrinking budget allocation, the PAP improved its budget execution rate to over 70%, even though it only resumed its activities in July 2022 after a year’s hiatus. In addition to these achievements, the PAP reconfigured its committees to make them fit for purpose and aligned to the current priority policy areas of the Union.

Participants agreed that over the last few months, especially following the election of the Bureau of the 6th Parliament, the PAP recorded several other significant achievements. Major milestones include the implementation of the rotation principle at the level of the Bureau as well as at all other organs of the PAP and the amendments of the PAP’s Rules of Procedure.

The crucial follow-up meeting scheduled for January 2022 between both parties will determine the way forward and how the issues raised during the Retreat will be resolved. Members of the two Organs described the meeting as a successful exercise that helped address the misunderstandings that have affected the relationship over the past few years.

In his concluding remarks on the last day of the retreat, H.E Hon. Charumbira expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes. He lauded the retreat as a key victory in the process of securing political, administrative, and financial support to unlock the PAP’s full potential. The President of the PAP also paid tribute to the Chairperson of the PRC and the close to 40 Ambassadors who participated in the joint retreat.

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