Welcome Remarks by Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini at the Official Opening of the Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament, Midrand, 15 May 2023
Your Excellency, President of the Union of the Comoros, Mr Azali Assoumani, also Chairperson of the African Union,
Honourable Chief Fortune Charumbira, President of the Pan-African Parliament,
Honourable Speakers of the various African National Parliaments,
Honourable Members of the Pan-African Parliament,
Honourable Members of the various African National Parliaments,
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Your Excellencies, Members of the African Diplomatic Corps
All Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to welcome you to South Africa, on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa. I want to especially acknowledge the presence of the President of the Comoros, His Excellency President Assoumani, current Chairperson of the African Union.
Honourable Presidents, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The Pan-African Parliament has an extensive and impressive agenda which seeks to address common challenges across the African continent. Allow me to present remarks on a few agenda issues.
It is fitting that the PAP will host a Summit on Climate Change and Equity, particularly in view of the devastating floods in various countries, as well as extreme drought, which have displaced people in different parts of the continent, leading to most people losing their livelihoods, including especially women who bear the brunt of the negative impacts of climate change. These compound the ongoing challenges of inadequate food and hunger occasioned by the geo-politics. While some progress has been made especially for developing countries with the agreement on new “Loss and Damage Fund” during the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) held in Egypt last year which establishes a precedent for climate justice. However, more work needs to be done in operationalising the Fund and establishing the adaptation goals. At the continental level, we need to focus on the implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan 2022-2023. We therefore hope that the PAP will continue its robust discussions on the report of the 27th Conference of Parties held in Egypt, to continue building on the gains made, and contribute to a common African position on this issue.
The Climate Change Model Law is also a worthy contribution to the arsenal of tools at the disposal of Member States to address climate change, especially adaption and mitigation, as well as just transition. Africa has the expertise through its universities and research institutions, to assist and contribute to this endeavour.
The South African Government is especially encouraged by the deliberations of the PAP on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area and its specific focus on the significant role that the Pan-African Parliamentarians could play in its acceleration. You may recall that during the Summit held on 19 – 20 February this year, the Heads of State adopted three Protocols to the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, namely, on Competition Policy, Investment as well as on Intellectual Property Rights. We look up to the PAP to facilitate the ratification of these protocols so that they may be integrated into national legislation, thus providing a legal basis to underpin an effective single market for Africa, and meaningful market access across the AfCFTA for the private sector, especially the SMMEs led by women and young entrepreneurs.
It is also encouraging to witness the other initiatives undertaken by the different formations in our continent, such as the Women & Youth in Trade AfCFTA Conference hosted in Dar Es Salaam in September 2022, and the Business Forum hosted in Cape Town on 16 March 2023. Much remains to be done to address the infrastructure challenges, the inadequate freight and logistics at the borders to facilitate the free movement of goods, an issue that has been an impediment to intra-Africa trade. We also need to eliminate barriers to trade.
The movement of people across borders is another challenge that we need to address, as it impacts countries at different levels. Some countries have to deal with a huge influx of economic migrants in an irregular situation, as well as refugees, while others have large numbers of displaced persons. Most countries have policies in place as well as population registers which are effective, while some are still struggling to establishing effective population registration systems. It is also important that our countries can create decent jobs for our youth to stem the flow of migrants across the Atlantic Ocean, where huge numbers continue to perish.
Another important issue on your agenda Mr President, is the Model Law on Gender Equity. Much as progress has been registered particularly in ensuring the participation of women in decision-making, in ensuring access to finance, a lot remains to be done. We therefore welcome this initiative which will hopefully align with and strengthen the AU strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment to eliminate constraints hindering gender equality and women empowerment so that women and girls may participate fully in economic, political and social endeavours.
Mr President, we look forward to the outcomes of the workshop on Access to Information, Digital Rights with the Internet Governance Forum, as well proposals on how to integrate Traditional Medicine in African Health Systems.
Finally, I wish to reiterate on behalf of the Government of South Africa, the Government’s commitment to provide all the necessary support to facilitate the work of the Pan-African Parliament.
With those words, I would like to warmly welcome you to South Africa.
I thank you.
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