Thursday, May 16, 2013

‘Toothless’ Pan-African Parliament to be transformed into legislative body

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP), an executive structure of the African Union (AU) described by critics as ‘toothless’ and ‘wasteful’, will soon be transformed into a full legislative body.
This emerged yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the institution is based and where its second ordinary session took place – an event graced by the presence of AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Ghana President John Mahama, as well as many high-ranking African officials.
Mahama said at this crucial time in Africa’s history, the importance of a Pan-African legislative body could not be over emphasised. “The AU must hasten its transformation and grant this House (the PAP) full legislative powers to tackle the challenges facing Africa,” he said. Challenges facing Africa include; among others, child and drug trafficking, climate change, and regional integration, he said.
“These challenges are surmountable and can be overcome if the PAP makes its transition from a consultative body to a full legislative institution,” the Ghanaian head of state said.

PAP President Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi revealed that said PAP was in the process of being transformed into a full legislative body.  “The draft Protocol has been submitted to AU member states, their justice ministers and attorneys generals for review and will be submitted for approval to the summit of heads of state in January 2014,” Amadi said.
But critics believe that even if the PAP was to be vested with legislative powers, it will make very little and no impact on the day-to-day affairs of the continent, as power-mongering African heads of state will unlikely let PAP interfere in the internal affairs of their countries.
This equation has led some independent analysts to question the creation – in the first place – of such a ‘toothless’ and ‘wasteful’ organisation lacking a legislative mandate, and contributing to almost nothing to the advancement of the people of this continent.
Nevertheless, Dlamini-Zuma urged PAP to become more robust, efficient and effective and engage vigorously in policy decisions if the continent was to make the next 50 years a period of sustained growth and prosperity.
Despite poor records of media freedom in many African countries, PAP said it will nevetheless launch its media freedom campaign the near future.