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Statement by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mr Ronald Lamola (MP) on behalf of President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, on the occasion of the opening session of the 1st Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament, Pan-African Parliament Precinct, Gallagher Estate in Midrand, 31 October 2022

Honourable Chief Charumbira, President of the Pan-African Parliament, Speakers of the Assembly, Honourable Members of the Pan-African Parliament, All Distinguished Guests,
 
The Government of the Republic of South Africa extends its  congratulations to the President and the Bureau that has assumed its work in earnest.
We also welcome the new members of the Pan-African Parliament, whom I believe have undergone a capacity-building session this past weekend.
 
I would like to share some reflections, which will include the work that will be done during the session.
 
These reflections should help us to advance our programmes on the continent as we share best practices on various issues, as we consider various Model Laws that will be debated during the Session, which forms the basis of our work as the envisaged legislative organ of the African Union.
 
This work should help us advance our socio-economic development, as well as democracy, human rights and the rule of law as individual representatives of our States, through the strengthening of accountability mechanisms at the national level, but also help us to forge common pathways towards regional and continental integration.
 
A vision which was foreshadowed by one of Africa greatest sons, Pixely Ka Isaka Seme whose name is recorded in history as one of the founders of the African National Congress. He said the following:
 
The African already recognizes his anomalous position and desires a change. The brighter day is rising upon Africa.
 
Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities.
 
Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace-greater and more abiding than the spoils of war.
 
This past week the various caucuses settled the issue of rotation in serving in the various structures of this organ.
 
We are encouraged by this development as it forms the basis of a rules-based multilateral system that is predictable. 
 
Similarly, we hope that the Rules of Procedure that are being amended will build on that progress.
Honourable Members, you are meeting under the 2022 theme of the African Union tilted “Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent: Strengthening Agro-food systems, health and social protection systems for accelerated human, social and economic capital development”, which could not have been more apt given the challenges that our continent is facing which include hunger and lack of food security for many of our people.
 
The current geo-political context characterised by uncertainty, nationalism and polarization, and compounded by the impacts of climate change, among which our continent is the hardest hit, continues to present challenges for food security and nutrition.
 
As you well know, healthy and well-nourished citizens, modern agriculture for increased productivity and production are some of the key goals included in African Union Agenda 2063, the Agenda We Want.
 
I believe that the Model Law on Food and Nutrition Security in Africa discussed during the Committee Sitting held August 2022 provides guidance on how best to align these functions of food security and nutrition which tend to be located in the Ministries of Agriculture and Health respectively.
One of the tools that will also give us an indication of the progress we have made, including on the issues of hunger, poverty as well as unemployment of our youth, is the review of the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 next year.
 
I would like to encourage all of us to follow that process closely as it has a bearing on the promotion of accountability at the national level, especially on the socio-economic plans that we have adopted. 
 
The African Continental Free Trade Area is also one of the tools at our disposal to contribute to greater integration, but it would require the finalization of harmonization of standards across the Continent and the streamlining of our Supply Chains, among others.
 
Much depends on the progress that we make at the national level to adopt the relevant legislation that will allow the commencement of preferential trade for instance, on trade in goods.
 
Encouraging progress is being registered on the agreed five priority areas, being finance, transport, tourism, communications, and professional sectors.
Another area that we can exploit to realize the aspirations of the African peoples, is to work with the African Diaspora, who can help build the much-needed skills for future careers in our continent, as well as contribute to the transfer of technology which we sorely need.
 
Citizen engagement is another area that could be strengthened, and I would like to encourage you to consider standing platforms/mechanisms for youth engagement as well as civil society because of its research capacity the promotion of accountability, which is at the core of the work of Parliamentarians.
 
Work is ongoing on the issue of the empowerment of women and gender parity as evidenced by the 13th Conference on Women Empowerment and Inclusion in Governance scheduled on 3 November 2022.
 
Mr President,
 
The Pan-African Parliament has an important mandate of contributing to the strengthening of the culture of democracy, good governance and the rule of law in the continent.
 
This includes through the implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which provides a framework for election monitoring on our continent. Some of our countries have held elections this year, still more are expected to hold them in 2023.
 
We need to interrogate the responsibility of the PAP as an institution in supporting the AU. The High-Level Parliamentary dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance that you are scheduled to have during this session as well as the roundtable on advancing democratic governance, will contribute towards that effort.
 
The current population of Africa is one point four billion people  as based on the latest estimates.
 
Africa population is equivalent to 16.72% of the total world population.
 
Africa ranks number 2 among regions of the world ordered by population.
 
The median age in Africa is 19.7years.
 
We cannot continue to govern the same way we are governing. 
 
Corruption and misgovernance should never define us.  Instead, we should be defined by digitisation, innovation and world class infrastructure.
 
Our continent has always been a reservoir of innovation and dynamic leadership, we need a generation across the continent that will give rise to ideas like Ali Mazrui, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Jean Martine Cisse, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela and Samora Machel.
 
I am pleased to note that you will have a debate on the performance review of the report of the Pan-African Parliament, which would give an indication of the areas that need to be strengthened. We expect that the discussions will be robust with a view to building on the progress that has been made.
 
Furthermore, in order to strengthen the mandate of the PAP such that it becomes a legislative organ of the African Union as envisaged in the 2014 Malabo Protocol, I would like to appeal to all Parliamentarians to continue the advocacy work for the ratification of the afore-mentioned 2014 Malabo Protocol so that it may enter into force as soon as possible.

South Africa is seized with the process of ratification of the Malabo Protocol and we hope to report good news in this regard, in the near future.

Finally, I wish to reiterate on behalf of the Government of South Africa, the Government’s commitment to provide all the necessary support to facilitate the work of the Pan-African Parliament.

In this respect, The South African government remains resolute that the permanent precinct of the Pan African Parliament is finalised, and my Government has made good progress in resolving the issues that have been obstacles. Our goal is to ensure that the African Union Organs hosted in South Africa are housed under one roof.

With these words, I wish to declare the 1st Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament officially open.

I thank you.