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Mama Africa’s new body

Jacob-ZumaAs the Pan African Parliament meets for the first time can this body help the continent rediscover its’ greatness?

By Angela Hinds

At last the Pan African Parliament has commenced a five year mandate that promises rapid change for Africa. In a continent torn apart by wars and internal conflict, and host to some of the poorest nations on earth, many look to this organisation to implement change and implement it fast.

On this years United Nations Human Development Index, twenty three out of twenty four nations in the low human development category were on the African continent, the only exception being Afghanistan.

On Wednesday in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Pan African Parliament opened its first ordinary session with host President Jacob Zuma (pictured above) urging African leaders to speed up regional integration efforts.

He added that South Africa was committed to ‘the aim of the pan African Parliament to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers.’ This is the first meeting under the leadership of the new president Idriss Ndele from Chad.

Established in 2004 the Pan African Parliament is the legislative organ of the African Union promoting amongst other things the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa and collective self-reliance and economic recovery.

Although in the past there have been attempts to dismantle the Pan African Parliament, many today hope they will be instrumental in building a more united and strategic Africa, resulting in governance that will bring much needed political stability to the continent.

Zuma reminded Parliaments members that the continent could not become complacent while its people remained among the poorest in the world. He also observed:

Our electricity, transport and telecommunications infrastructure is fragmented, and often not compatible. We do not collaborate in scientific development and technological innovation. Most of our countries have a greater volume of trade with countries across the ocean than with those with whom we share the same soil.”

Traditionally Africa has too often been the host of, willingly or unwillingly, those who have arrived on the continent to take a great deal and give precious little back to its nations or citizens.

Decline has been accelerated by often inept and corrupt leadership, allowing this great continent to fall further and further behind the ‘modern’ world.

Whilst no-one is suggests there should be Starbucks on every corner, advancement is needed in many major areas and many see the role of the Pan African Parliament to ensure that talking leads to some positive action before it becomes physically impossible for this great continent to catch up.

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