News and Information

African parliament locates in South Africa
July 8, 2004
afrol News, 8 July - The ongoing African Union summit today decided that South Africa is to host the new pan-African parliament. This was decided after Egypt withdrew its bid. While South African officials show pride in hosting the new parliament, there are growing concerns over the yet to be defined costs.

A larger number of African Heads of State are currently gathered in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, at the African Union (AU) summit. Here, they have discussed ongoing security problems in Africa, including the Darfur crisis, and have continued on the process of strengthening the AU's institutions.

A pan-African parliament was set up and officially inaugurated in Addis Ababa at an AU summit on 18 March this year. The first session of the new parliament was thus held, although only 38 out of the AU's 53 member countries had designated MPs to the inauguration ceremony. By now, 200 MPs have been sworn in, but only 38 countries are still represented.

The pan-African parliament is to have very limited powers and will mainly be debating on issues that affect the entire continent. It is loosely modelled on the parliament of the European Union, which has faced criticism by European voters for not transferring sufficient powers to the EU's only democratic institution. Africans may expect the same debate as the parliament starts its sessions.

As the parliament was inaugurated earlier this year, two countries, Egypt and South Africa, sought to host the new pan-African institution. Egypt today withdrew its bid, thus making the decision easy. A vote was made unnecessary and it was declared that South Africa was to host the new body.

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma today in Addis Ababa said she hailed the decision and added that South Africa was "happy to serve the continent in that way." Also the speaker of South Africa's parliament, Baleka Mbete, in a statement today welcomed the new body to her country: "We shall work hard to make the institution serve its purposes as a true African parliament."

Critical voices have however already been heard in South Africa as there do not exist plans for the funding of the new body. It is generally assumed that South African tax payers will have to assume responsibility of the pan-African parliament - which has led many South Africans to question the purpose of the new body without powers.

The pan-African parliament in its first sessions also has contributed to this scepticism. MPs have failed to agree upon the means of funding the new body's activities and have failed to distance themselves from dictatorships like Zimbabwe. This has cost the new body a large amount of trust even before it gets grounded in South Africa.

In other developments at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, the state leaders yesterday elected Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Union's new Chairman for the next year. President Obasanjo becomes the AU's third Chairman, following the Presidents of South Africa and Mozambique. The daily leadership of the AU however remains with the Chairman of the African Commission, Malian ex-President Alpha Omar Konaré.

By staff writer

© afrol News


    Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.

First Name
Last Name