Gauteng Hosts CPA Africa Region
Protecting and building democracy, promoting gender parity in Parliaments, closer co-operation between member countries, 21st century economics, and security on the high seas around Africa are on the agenda of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region Conference, hosted by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in Sandton this week.
Officially opening the proceedings today, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosisana Dlamini-Zuma said (on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, who could not attend) that Africa needed to give more attention to the empowerment of women. Just as important as it was to plan for industrial growth, the role of women and their input into legislative processes should also be methodically expanded. She reminded delegates that women constituted half the population of the continent.
The Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature said the people of Africa should build viable mechanisms to complete the process of liberation from colonialism apartheid and take up their place in the modern world. Responding to the official opening of the conference, Hon Lindiwe Maseko thanked the 400 visiting delegates from the CPA countries for helping South Africa in its own quest for emancipation.
Africa’s vision is to take up its rightful place in the changing international world order and also to “accelerate its work of promoting democracy, good governance and sustainable development,” Hon Maseko said on behalf of the host province on Tuesday.
For this to happen, Africa needed tangible programmes and its Parliaments had to move to implement them, she added.
“The 43rd Conference of CPA Africa is meant to bring us closer to this vision and it is important that we all ensure that the resolutions are fulfilled. It is fitting that this conference is hosted here in South Africa during the year when our country is celebrating 18 years of democratic governance, characterised by programmes that are focused on building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society as well as the restoration of human rights for all, without discrimination of any form or character. We have made important progress in this regard and yet the challenges ahead are still immense,” Hon Maseko said.
Building a more viable CPA that could respond appropriately to the changing international world order was part of the process.
“To this end, I am delighted that Sir Allan Haselhurst, the Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee is here with us and will help untangle the issue of transforming the CPA into a more formidable international organisation. As we proceed into the second centenary of the CPA, this question is important and we must respond to it properly,” she said.
Delegates from the 19 nations of the CPA Africa Region are in Sandton to learn about and adopt each other’s best legislative practices, and thereby help improve their own quality of legislation, at this week-long event.
The Constitution of the CPA Africa Region provides for members “in good financial standing” to host the annual conferences of the body. Gauteng Province, as a full sub-national member and South Africa’s economic powerhouse, grabbed the opportunity to host the event “with both hands”.
“We needed the best possible results from this conference, for two reasons: to underline our resolve to use the next three years to build unity and understanding between countries of the region and beyond, and to consolidate the Africa region in the global arena,” said the Speaker.
“We must reach commonality on economic, social and political imperatives and I believe that we can. Without dominating the CPA Africa Region or losing sight of our unique position in sub-Saharan Africa South Africa wants to be an integral part of this consolidated front,” Hon Maseko said.