‘Help Deepen Democracy’ Call at CPA Africa Region Meeting
Countries of the Central African sub-region expressed their full support for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region’s call to have the CPA recognised as a diplomatic body instead of a charity, writes Abel Mputing.
The resolution was taken unanimously at a meeting of the Central African sub-region, comprising Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, shortly after the official opening of the 43rd C, hosted by the Gauteng legislature in Sandton.
The Central African countries was opened on Wednesday by South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosisana Dlamini-Zuma who said (on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, who could not attend) that Africa needed to give more attention to the empowerment of women.
The Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Ms Lindiwe Maseko, .in her response to the opening address, thanked the 400 visiting delegates for helping South Africa in its own quest for emancipation. She stressed that the people of Africa should build viable mechanisms to complete the process of liberation from colonialism and apartheid and take their place in the modern world.
The opening proceedings were followed by meetings of the various sub-regions. At the meeting of the Central African sub-region where the change of status of the CPA was discussed, the Chairperson of the sub-region, Rt. Hon. Chimuntu Banda, said the CPA was currently registered under the Charities Act of the United Kingdom (UK). The general feeling among CPA countries in Africa was that the change of the Association’s status to a diplomatic body would enable the CPA “to fully achieve its objectives as a body that seeks to deepen democracy.”
He said the association would be happy to join organisations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Southern African Development Conference and the Pan African Parliament, to name a few, which were recognised as diplomatic bodies in their own right.
The sub-region was also briefed about the resolution to introduce an annual Africa Youth Parliament in CPA Africa Region countries soon. Rt. Hon. Banda said, “A decision has been taken that the inaugural Africa Youth Parliament will take place this year (2012) at the State of Akwa Ibone in Nigeria. Each branch will be requested to identify two youths, male and female, who will represent them.”
Meanwhile the meeting of the East Africa sub-region heard delegates call on other countries at the conference to help fight piracy and the al-Shabab extremist movement, writes Katlego Mkhwanazi. This sub-region focused on the issues of human trafficking, piracy and terrorism.
Delegates from East Africa heard the Chairperson of the East Africa Sub-Regional Committee, Mr Okupa Elijah, declare: “The greatest challenge in our region is terrorism from Somalia’s al-Shabab, followed by piracy along the waters of East Africa. They are big challenges which affect tourism and indirectly the economy of East Africa,” said.
The delegates said the root of the problem was unemployment in the area. “Most of the challenges we face as a region have to do with the unemployment of young people,” said Ms Bako Christine Abia, a representative from the parliament of Uganda.
She suggested that governments invest in agriculture to help absorb young people from the urban areas, and get them back to rural areas to work the land.
The challenge, according to her, was that advancements in agricultural technology had not yet reached the region.
“Young people are not interested in using their hands to dig, and that alone makes agriculture unattractive to young people,” she explained. “So we need to smarten the way we invest in agriculture. Governments need to invest in priorities that suit the interests of young people.”
She quoted South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who said in her opening speech that Africa needed to address the challenges facing the youth of today.
“If Africa fails to create sufficient economic and employment opportunities to create decent living conditions for the youth, this could present a significant threat to social and political stability,” Mr Elijah agreed.
At the Central African countries’ meeting, CPA Africa Region Treasurer, Mr Request Muntanga, commended participants for their full payment of subscription fees. “This sub-region has led by example and we certainly hope that defaulters will learn from you and settle their debt.