“TAKE THE PEOPLE WITH YOU,” SAYS LESOTHO PRIME MINISTER
The Right Hon Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili, Prime Minister of Lesotho, opened the 8th Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) today.
The theme for this year’s discussion, “From Adoption to Ratification of African Union Treaties,” remains a contentious topic in the Chamber.
PAP President, Hon. Roger Nkodo-Dang, said the slowness with which PAP Member States sign and ratify the Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the AU, which will grant the PAP legislative control, begs the question whether African countries believe in the benefits of ratification.
Against this backdrop, Dr. Mosisili addressed the House on the importance of ratification, followed by presentations on the benefits of signing AU treaties, and the effect that ratification has on Member countries.
“We eagerly await the day when the Pan African Parliament will attain full legislative powers as embodied in the Protocol of the Constitutive Act of the AU relating to the PAP,” said Dr. Mosisili.
“The road to this desired destination however should not be a hurried affair, as we need to ensure that all our parliaments and parliamentarians can indeed relate to the transformation,” he cautioned.
This remark by Lesotho’s Prime Minister illustrates an important notion echoed during parliamentary debate, today: treaties and continental legal frameworks should fundamentally put African people at its core.
“During the ratification process, it is critical that we carry our peoples along. It must not be leaders or governments’ business only. Our peoples who are our masters must fully comprehend, accept and own the process,” said Dr. Mosisili.
“MPs play a critical role in public education,” he said, pointing out that if Pan African Parliamentarians fail to take their people along with them on the journey, the AU and the PAP may suffer the same fate as the European Union, through Brexit.
“That, in my view, is a classic example where a government was not in tandem with the people. As the AU, and the PAP, we should learn a lesson from that episode.”
He said the Speakers Conference’s theme provides clear manifestation to move from rhetoric to practical implication.
“This debate is important to our delegation as it seeks to inculcate a deeper understanding of the Act and its implication on our national structures,” he said.
“We are aware that different jurisdictions require different domestic processes for regional and continental protocols, especially those with the significance of the Malabo protocol,” he said.
He said today’s conference presents a forum for dialogue and review of the progress made in creating linkages between regional and national parliaments with the PAP. It is therefore critical for MPs to capacitate and empower our regional legislative structure as we walk towards the Africa we want.
He also urged for a balance between national parliaments and the PAP to ensure acceptability and sustainability of institutions, especially when it comes to matters such as continental free trade – an example of the ultimate integration.