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Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining

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The PAP Chamber in Midrand, South Africa. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining 

Delegated parliamentarians from African countries gather at the unassuming Pan African Parliament’s (PAP) building in Midrand, South Africa, every year to discuss African affairs. But just how relevant is the PAP to business in Africa?   

By Leon Louw, owner and editor of WhyAfrica

Parliamentarians from 50 African countries (four countries are currently suspended) gather in South Africa every year to discuss African affairs, move motions and adopt model laws that consider matters that affect the entire continent.

In the past, this organ of the African Union (AU) was not given much airtime. Basically, what happened at PAP, stayed at PAP. However, under new leadership and a serious renewal drive, business in Africa should probably start following PAP, and pay serious attention to issues being discussed in the Midrand Chamber.

Most people that I know are not even aware of the PAP. Those that are, dismiss it as irrelevant – a talk shop without proper legislative power and political will.

And admittedly, since the PAP was inaugurated more than 18 years ago, it has not covered itself in glory. Budget constraints, political squabbling, and flawed rules of procedure (especially in terms the rotation of top positions) have often plunged this important African institution into controversy.

The PAP was established in March 2004 by Article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU), as one of the nine organs provided for in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community signed in Abuja, Nigeria, in 1991.

Although the PAP has, since then, not made real headway, and remains toothless, the mere fact that it serves as a talk shop for African politicians, philosophers, parliamentarians and thought leaders, should make the business world take note.

The African narrative (Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining)

I spent three weeks in the parliamentary chambers covering the First Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of PAP in October 2022 and realised that it is in these chambers and within the 11 PAP committees that African thought about all issues affecting the continent (including business and mining) is conceptualised, and that these parliamentarians determine the African narrative.

African governments don’t just send backbenchers to represent them at the PAP. They send heavyweight politicians, decision makers, people with immense influence and power in their countries, and academics to PAP for a reason.  The PAP debates, discusses and analyses, amongst many other themes, security issues, climate change, agriculture, mining, energy, development, social issues, and environmental concerns.

The PAP presents and accepts model laws which get sent as proposals to the AU for consideration. The PAP’s biggest impact though, is that 270 influential parliamentarians will go back to their own countries and push these narratives and policies accepted by the PAP. That has relevance.

What’s more is that the PAP, under new leadership, is on a renewal drive and might become much more prominent in the future.

While recognising its historic constraints, PAP is putting  on a new jacket in 2023 as it evolves into a modern organ of the AU. The institution, like the African continent, faces several challenges in the wake of a devastating global pandemic and as climate change threatens to derail all previous development gains.

A roadmap to rebrand (Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining)

Notwithstanding the ever-growing challenges, the PAP is in the process of developing a new roadmap to rebrand, re-energise and reinvigorate the organisation’s rules and processes to align and streamline it functions and make it more efficient.

According to the newly elected President Chief Fortune Charumbira from Zimbabwe, such a roadmap will go a long way in improving the functionality of PAP.

A lack of clarity, especially about the Principles of Rotation when electing the Bureau of the PAP, became an issue of contention during last year’s sitting that took place from 24 May to 1 June 2021. The dispute eventually led to the momentarily postponement of the election.

Initially adopted on 21 September 2004, the PAP rules were last amended on 10 October 2011.

“The new roadmap needs to guide us and ensure a more effective execution of the mandate of PAP,” said President Charumbira in his opening address to the PAP.

The Rules of Procedure are central to the normal functioning of a Parliament as they aid the organisation in its work. It is important to amend, review and update the Rules of Procedure to ensure they are reflective of the evolution and changing needs of PAP.

“I urge all members to impart and share their input and suggestions during this process. In this way PAP will play a significant role and become the Big Brother of parliaments in Africa.

Each caucus representing the five regions of Africa, needs to go through all 94 rules, reflect on them, intrepid them and if necessary, amend them, or even devise new rules, if necessary,” Charumbira added.

After three weeks of debating and chiselling out a way forward for Africa in Midrand, members of PAP remain enthusiastic about implementing changes and turning a new page in the evolution of Africa’s major legislative organ.

The PAP is on a rebranding and revival quest, and that should matter to all with an interest in Africa, including the mining fraternity.

Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining

WhyAfrica reports about, and publishes newsletters, magazines and research reports about natural resources and the primary sectors of African economies, and the infrastructure, equipment and engineering methods needed to extract and utilise these resources in an efficient, responsible, sustainable, ethic and environmentally friendly way, so that it will benefit the people of Africa.

Furthermore, WhyAfrica promotes Africa as an investment and travel destination, analyses the continent’s business environment and investment opportunities, and reports on how the political economies of African countries affect their development.         

WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021.

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Why the Pan African Parliament is relevant to mining



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