South Africa is committed to strengthening the pan-African parliament even though it still hasn't made a decision on its Malobo protocol, the newly sworn-in member of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), Thoko Didiza has said.
Didiza, Chairperson of the national council of provinces Thandi Modise, former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela and the EFF’s Julius Malema were among the five south Africans who were sworn into the 255-member institution on Monday.
The new members of the PAP have committed to assisting in strengthening the role it plays in the 55 African Union member states it represents.
"It is always important to be part of a collective, the African collective needs to work together legislatively," said Modise in an interview with the SABC.
Modise said she hoped issues such as the representation of women would improve, adding that while regulations wanted each country sending a delegation of five members to include one female it was incumbent on member states to appoint more female leaders to the African parliament.
'Principles of democracy'
While South Africa plays the role of host for the PAP, it is one of the 50 countries which have not signed the Molabo protocol, which will give the body the necessary teeth to do its job.
Didiza said the country still needed to assess the impact of the protocol before its rectified.
"South Africa is still looking at the Malabo protocol and will do what is necessary to ensure, in time that it's rectified," said Didiza.
She said the country was reviewing its role in the African parliament and that its new MPs at PAP would be more effective participants as a sign of seriousness.
However, EFF's commander in chief said he felt South Africa had not been playing a leading role in the pan Africanist parliament, arguing that PAP could not remain an advisory body.
"Most African states do not adhere to principles of democracy, they don’t respect democratic outcomes, there’s lots of corruption, institutionalised corruption and other unacceptable conducts that are being done in many countries but PAP cant intervene because it doesn’t have teeth,” said Malema.
Malema said he was happy with the delegation brought forward by South Africa’s national assembly, saying it would be able to bring some vibrancy and the necessary "teeth to bite" to the organisation.
He also decried the parliament being made up of the older generation.
"Majority of African parliaments are constituted by old ages and its unacceptable. Old age will even be determining plans and calling them 2030 plans, 2063 plans knowing very well they will not even be here. So we need the young ones who will put a plan which they know if they don’t implement they can still be held to account in 2063, 2030," said Malema.
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The iconic Mandela's grandson said it was crucial for the region to be united.
He told the public broadcaster that South Africa would back the regional body (SADC’s) candidates for PAP presidency. Two countries - Zimbabwe and Botswana - were vying for the role.
"In the past we have been a divided region. We want to unite the region and come out with strong candidates," said Mandela.
What is important is for South Africa to ensure that its able to unite the continent and to integrate is so it speaks with one voice, added Mandela.
Modise, without mentioning Malema or his fiery utterances said it was important to be mindful of approach when navigating African states.
"We don't come in with a hammer, you talk to people. We do not defy democracy the same was as African states and we have different constitutions," she noted.
Modise also said that when it came to the issue of rectifying protocol to give the body more teeth, African states needed to decide on how much of their own sovereignty they were sacrificing.
"Each country wants to cling to its sovereignty. When moving to the leg of the legislature you have to say which part of your sovereignty are you losing," she said.