By Michael Jegede
The Bureau of Pan-African Parliament (PAP) held a virtual meeting with chairpersons of the regional and thematic caucuses to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent and engage on the way forward.
Specifically, the meeting delved into the revised activity calendar of the PAP in the context of Covid-19; updates from chairpersons of caucuses on the pandemic situation in their respective regions; and concrete steps to be undertaken by Pan-African Parliamentarians to complement continental efforts in the fight against the novel Coronavirus.
The meeting reached a consensus on the necessity for PAP, which is the legislative organ of the African Union (AU), to take on the challenge and vigorously participate in the processes of finding solutions for African citizens in line with its mandate.
“The meeting provided an opportunity to evaluate the response by African countries to this invisible enemy. The engagement further emphasized the need for Parliamentarians to fully play their role in this critical time. The Caucuses have thus adopted the proposal of the Bureau that the PAP resumes activities of the Permanent Committees as soon as possible, in order to make meaningful contribution to the ongoing efforts,” says Hon. Bouras Djamel, PAP’s Acting President.
As a precursor to this engagement, the Committee on Health, Transport and Education as well as other PAP Permanent Committees are in the process of commencing consultations to come up with positions that can contribute to solutions in various sectors affected by the pandemic.
The Bureau and Caucus Chairpersons also resolved to sensitize African citizens and constituencies around the continent in respect of social distancing measures ordered by AU member states to slow the spread of the virus.
The meeting also urged African Parliamentarians to assertively use their oversight mandate to ensure that citizens are provided with the necessary tools to face the pandemic. Parliamentarians have further been called upon to promote collaboration among the 55 AU member nations, as solutions that are inclusive of all African countries will help the continent to definitively overcome this pandemic.
The caucuses were also briefed that the PAP had recently heeded the call from the African Union Commission (AUC) to join other organs in sparing part of their budgets to assist the Africa CDC in the fight against Covid-19. In this regard, the PAP has contributed over 500,000 USD.
The meeting was chaired by Hon. Bouras Djamel (Acting President) and attended by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira (Vice-President of the PAP), Hon. Ntlhoi Motsamai (Chairperson of the Southern Caucus), Hon. Helio Sanches (Chairperson of the Western Caucus) and Hon. Mustafa Elgendy (Chairperson of the Northern Caucus).
Others in attendance were Hon. Fidel Rwigamba (Deputy Chairperson of the Eastern Caucus), Hon. Elise Ndoadoumngue Neloumsei Loum (Chairperson of the Central Caucus) and Hon. Mboni Mhita (Chairperson of the Caucus on Youth). Senior managers of the PAP Secretariat in Midrand, South Africa, were also present at the meeting.
Michael is a journalist, he writes from Abuja.