This is the first anniversary celebration that The Pan African Parliament (PAP)has invited civil society to be part of their proceedings and reflections in observing the outcomes of PAPs intervention since it’s existence.
Ntombi Mcoyi- Africa Unite Youth representative attended the Pan African Parliament 10th Anniversary held from the 10th – 19th March 2014. It has been an honor for Africa Unite to beselected by the Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU) along with other NGOs from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa to participate in the Pan African Parliament reflections. The purpose of involving civil society in the program was to amplify the voices of grass route communities towards realizing the goals of PAP and African Renaissance.
It was important for Africa Unite to attend because Africa Unite mirrors the Pan African Parliament in many ways with regard to its vision of creating social cohesion among Africans, and empowering youth towards getting involved in discussions and decision-making on problems and challenges facing the continent.
Among the guests who attended the PAP 10th Anniversary were the former Presidents in Africa, civil society organizations, academia, youth, people with disabilities and Speakers of provincial, regional and national Parliaments. One of the main objectives discussed was to evolve PAP into an institution with full legislative powers, and for the African Union to work on strategies to make it’s self-sustaining financially, as currently 70% of funding is coming from foreign donors i.e. Europe.
Attending the PAP 10th Anniversary sessions, was much expected by civil society organizations as learnt more about the achievements of PAP in its 10 years of existence, to network with its role players and committees, and to come up with strategic ways to support the initiatives of PAP for them to have an impact on a practical level in terms of implementation at community level.
The 10 day program included engaging discussions at Committee and plenary level, cultural celebrations which were hosted by the Mayor of Tshwane, with a display of traditional dancing, cultural food, and celebration of diversity. The program also incorporated different dialogues that focused on civil society, Youth, and Women in discussing burning issues and recommendations towards a better Africa.
During this session Africa Unite representative had a chance to intervene during plenary sessions.
She was able to make contributions on behalf of South African youth and African Youth in general, which was well received by the entire audience.
Below are some of the recommendations that were highlighted during the discussions:
• Africa should have free travel between countries in the continent. Much was said about Africa being divided by boarders for so long that the division has been entrenched in our minds and has become a way of life. Speakers spoke of the difficulties of entering each other’s countries, even the President of the PAP shared how he was delayed at the airport in Botswana as he was denied entranceregardless of the fact that he has a diplomatic passport, where as tourists from Europe and America are able to travel freely thought the African continent without going through the hassles that most African have to endure. It was also pointed out that a lot of civil society organizations that were invited to attend the PAP Anniversary were not able to attend due to difficulties in obtaining their visas.
• Contributions from Africa Unite on this regard is that with the opening of boarders between African countries, this would facilitate more opportunities of trading between countries in the continent, and more exchange of skills that would equip youth with technical and business skill which in turn would decrease the high rate of unemployment among African countries.
• While some young people made recommendations that older leaders should step aside for young leaders to lead the way,Africa Unite recognizes and appreciates the value of intergenerational leadership training and collaboration in order for young upcoming leaders to learn from the mistakes of older leaders
• During the Youth Dialogue it was noted that no women representatives were present among the Youth leadership panelist. It was warned that youth should be weary not to get carried away with leadership and positions only to find that they have left young women in the streets, out of school, and subjected to abuse.
• A member of parliament from Sudan commented that we should not look for women leaders in boardrooms and in politics, but rather look for true leaders among women who work in the fields, on farms, among women who have raised, fed, nursed, and educated not only families but communities.
• Unemployment was another burning issue in the discussions. Africa Unite among other organizations gave recommendations that youth should be capacitated with skills other than that of their profession and qualifications; that business and entrepreneurship skills should be introduced in the educational curricular of primary school children that learners grow up in a culture of business and geared towards production of products instead of being only consumers. This would add to socio-economic development of the African continent.
• With regards to good governance, it was recommended that Heads of States should show more transparency and accountability of Governments in their spending in order to combat corruption.
One of the main recommendations during the Pan African Parliament was the importance of the PAP to gain legislative power, for Africans to work more vigorously in fighting corruption in the Continent, and for African Countries to work more strategically in equipping youth with skills that they can use to generate income.
Africa Unite would like to thank the Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU) for facilitating civil society’s attendance to the Pan African Parliament anniversary.