The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) launched its official “PAP Day” which is set to be commemorated every year on the 18th of March. The PAP Day celebrates the inauguration of the first Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament on 18th March 2004, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The occasion was marked by a virtual celebration to reflect on the journey of the institution 17 years after it was inaugurated. The Pan-African Parliament Day was officially launched by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, Acting President of the Pan-African Parliament, who indicated the importance of reflecting on the journey of the Pan-African Parliament as it strikes conversation on the vision and purpose of the institution, which can be traced directly to the Pan-African ideals of cooperation and unity among African states.
The main objectives of this maiden annual celebration were to reflect on the 17-year PAP journey since its inauguration, position PAP as a Parliament for all and a representation of people of Africa, empower stakeholders with knowledge on the Pan-African Parliament and its function as a legislative organ of the African Union and galvanize people on the need to ratify the Malabo Protocol and encourage actions aimed at engaging leaders in speeding up this process.
The launch of the PAP Day comes just months after African Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations (PMOs) came together to establish the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) that seeks to create more awareness and understanding of the Pan-African Parliament’s mandate, amplify its work through member states and PMOs with the aim of enhancing public participation by member states at the regional body. During the launch of the PAP Day, the network’s members made their commitment to continuously work to bridge the gap between PAP and member states’ Parliaments to see to it that the PAP protocols that member states are signatories to, are ratified and implemented.
In his remarks, Hon. Charumbira mentioned that declaring a dedicated “PAP Day” will serve as a reminder to decision-makers around the continent to fulfill their commitment by ratifying the Malabo Protocol and strengthen the powers and functions of the Pan-African Parliament.
Other dignitaries that also attended the launch were the Speakers of the ECOWAS Parliament and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis and Hon. Martin Ngoga, respectively, who reiterated the importance of amplification of African voices to achieving a bright future for the region through sound legislation and implementation of laws. Mr Ngoga emphasized on the importance of partnership between PAP and EALA for coordinated access to vaccines against Covid-19 and the post-Covid recovery plans as a common Africa continental response to the pandemic. This call proves timely especially given the rising cases of infections in Kenya and the African continent and the emergence of new variants of the virus.
Representing the Civil Society, Prof. Frans Viljoen, Director of Center for Human Rights described the day as” a great milestone for the continent.” He also commended Africans for their efforts in preserving the Pan-African Parliament despite the numerous challenges it has had to face in the last 17 years. He added that, the Pan-African Parliament being taken down to grassroots levels is exciting for the civil society as they to work with institutions that are people driven and promote Pan-Africaniism.
The launch of the PAP day sets the stage for increased collaborations between the Pan-African Parliament with other regional Parliaments such as EALA and ECOWAS Parliament, between Parliaments from member states and between the regional Parliaments and African PMOs to best represent and address Africa’s unique needs.