EXCLUSIVE: 'Africa's process of integration is slow but the future looks bright,' says PAP

2017-07-22 09:30
Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament Vipya Harawa (Supplied)

Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament Vipya Harawa (Supplied)

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Cape Town – Pan-African Parliament clerk, Vipya Harawa has said that Africa's process of integration is slow but the future looks bright for the continent.

Harawa said this during an exclusive interview with News24 at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg this week.

"I'm very optimistic about the way forward in terms of Africa's integration. We've had a slow start but the future looks bright," Harawa said.

Harawa said that there were a number of reasons that hindered progress in terms of how the continent could be integrated, among them the fear by some countries that their authority might be infringed upon.  

"There is fear among some member states that integration could rob them of their sovereignty. There is still a communication that needs to be resolved for countries to understand that there is no conflict. In fact it makes us stronger as a continent," said Harawa.

'We don't have the mandate'

PAP, which is also known as the Africa Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union (AU). Its inaugural session was in March 2004.

"The idea PAP's inception goes back to 1997 to what is referred to as the Abuja protocol. The idea behind it was discussed in the context of the AU seeing the need for economic integration," said Harawa.  

After its inauguration in 2004, PAP was given five years to exercise the law of consultation and advisory after which it was supposed to draft laws for the continent. However, to date, those laws have not been made.

"We have still not attained the function of a full legislative body. So far only five [Sierra Leone, Saharawi, Mali, The Gambia and Togo] out of a total of 55 countries have ratified the PAP protocol and the rest have not," he said.

Vipya Harawa

Clerk of the Pan-Africa Parliament Vipya Harawa

"As a result, we are not able to attain our role as fully fledged legislators. The majority of states should approve – and the majority would be 28. Until and unless they ratify the protocol, we do not have the mandate to exercise the functions of a legislative body." 

'We are constantly visiting countries'

Harawa, however, made it clear that the ratification was a sovereign right and therefore, the question regarding why member states were not approving should be asked to the states themselves.

But what is PAP doing to engage the different states for progress?

"We are constantly visiting the countries, talking to the heads of states and ministries of justice. We are continuously seeking guidance with the authorities of individual countries to make a case for them to ratify the PAP protocol. We are also talking to civil society groups as a voice for the people," said Harawa.

He said that it was clear that most countries were not opposed to the ratification of the protocol but that there was need for communication.

Read more on:    au  |  africa

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