Published: Friday, 19 March 2021

 

18th March officially declared PAP DAY

In a landmark event for Africa, the Pan-African Parliament has launched the “PAP Day” which is set to be commemorated every year on the 18th of March. The PAP Day commemorates the inauguration of the first Parliament of the PAP on 18 March 2004, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The occasion was marked by a virtual celebration to reflect on the journey of the institution 17 years after its first inauguration. The PAP Day was officially launched by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, Acting President of the PAP, who indicated that a reflection on the journey of the PAP ignites a conversation on the vision and purpose of the institution, which can be traced directly to the Pan-African ideals of cooperation and unity among African states.

“On behalf of the PAP, I hereby declare the 18th  of March of every year as the Pan-African Parliament Day (PAP Day). We are grateful to everyone who has undertaken the journey with us over the past 17 years. The next 17 years will solely depend on our ability to continue to work together in the interest of our continent as we move forward towards the Africa We Want. As we celebrate 17 years since the inauguration of our Parliament, let us reflect on its potential and how the next years, working together, can turn this platform into a more powerful voice of African citizens in the spirit of “One Africa, One Voice”.

Hon. Chief Charumbira also disclosed that declaring a dedicated “PAP Day” will serve as a reminder to decision makers around the continent to fulfill their commitment by ratifying the Malabo Protocol and strengthen of powers and functions of the PAP. Also known as the Malabo Protocol, the Protocol to the constitutive act of the AU relating to the PAP was adopted at the Assembly of Heads of State and Government summit in June 2014 and is intended to extend the powers of the PAP into a fully-fledged legislative organ. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.

Representing the Civil Society, Prof. Frans Viljoen, Director of Center for Human Rights (University of Pretoria) described the day as a “great milestone for the continent”.

“This is an important Day for Africa. We commend Africans for their efforts in preserving the PAP despite all challenges.  One key thing that excites us is that the PAP is being taken to the people on the grassroots level. This is what we want as the civil society, institutions that are people driven. We appreciate the role the PAP has been playing especially when it comes to human rights issues,” he said.

H.E. Salih Omar Abdu, Ambassador of the State of Eritrea and Dean of the African Diplomatic Heads of Missions in South Africa stated that, the PAP Day is giving the continent an opportunity to uplift and promote the continent.

“We need to make sure that this day rallies us in unity in pushing towards achieving the Agenda 2063 which is our currently aimed destination.”

Right Honourable Ngoga Martin, Speaker of East African Parliament called for the PAP to be transformed into a fully-fledged African Union’s legislative body.

“For the PAP to achieve its mandate let it be given all powers that will see it grow bigger. There is more we need to share with the PAP as the East African Legislative Assembly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Right Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament said, “the PAP is a symbol of a united Africa as such it must be preserved. Through the PAP, our continent has seen democracy being archived this is a serious achievement in our lifetime. As ECOWAS Parliament we have the same vision and values as the PAP,” he said. Honourable Sidie also urged the PAP to fight corruption, poverty and conflicts as a way of achieving a prosperous continent.

The virtual launch of the PAP Day was also joined by representatives of the media who pledged to work closely with the PAP to address visibility challenges faced by the continental Parliament and ensure that African citizens are kept abreast of the work of the institution.

“The work of the PAP, which is intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent, is not much known to many citizens of Africa. A strong collaboration with the media to trumpet and educate African citizens on the importance of the PAP,” said Gilbert Borketey Boyefio from the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN), a network that comprises press corps or galleries in the various legislative assemblies across Africa, who will join to ensure that the tenets of Open Parliament exist across Africa.

Mr. Vipya Harawa, Clerk of the PAP said used the occasion of the launch to express gratitude to PAP’s National Parliamentary Focal points and various stakeholders as well as partners, for ensuring that activities are relayed at national level.  He called for their habitual collaboration as the PAP prepares to roll-out this celebration on an annual basis.

Regularly celebrating milestones can breathe life into an organisation by keeping everyone aligned to the mission and values that contribute to its long-term success. Not only does it bring most visibility to the institution but can also serve as a moment to educate the public about the history, the value, the work and the evolution of the organisation. This year’s commemoration therefore serves as a launch for what it is to be expected on 18 March of every year.” said Mr. Harawa.