, GAUTENG, South Africa, Oct 26 – Parliamentarians from across Africa have been urged to check against the abuse of power by governments in their respective countries.
The Speaker of National Assembly in Kenya Kenneth Marende said lawmakers must evaluate themselves and determine whether they play their role as the people’s watchdog or they were conspirators with those in power.
Mr Marende said disregard for the rule of law, impunity and greed through plunder of resources by some leaders who wanted to preserve their status quo had given the continent a bad name and also impoverished its people.
"Let us ask ourselves as legislators whether we are doing enough to check abuse of power. Are we reformers or conspirators… Our own and our people’s enemies so to speak?" he posed.
Mr Marende who spoke at the first ordinary session of the Second Pan African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa called for unity of the continent arguing that Africa had lagged behind because of the discordant voices.
He urged African leaders to emulate leaders of great nations like the United States, the United Kingdom and China who made sacrifices for their nations to prosper. Africa too, he added, boasted selfless leaders like former presidents Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) and Anwar Sadat (Egypt).
However, the speaker said the continent had lost its ability to manage and sustain better successions in governments exemplified by the three.
"We have lost in our ability to sustain the tempo by our apparent failure to manage equal or better successions."
Mr Marende said although Africa was bedevilled with disasters, there was immense opportunity for its growth.
He praised the African Union for its role in helping Kenya resolve problems that followed the 2007 General Elections, when it sent former
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to mediate between warring parties.
Such a gesture, he added, was a clear testimony of how a united Africa can help resolve problems on the continent.
Mr Marende said the Pan African Parliament (PAP) would not progress unless it had support from national parliaments.
He said Africa required a strong and assertive Parliament which can aptly address, consolidate and streamline her concerns.
But currently, he observed, the Pan African Parliament – which has five MPs from African Union member countries – had not made its presence felt.
The African parliament, he argued, should come up with a vision and goals that are measurable that can be domesticated in state parliaments.
He called on national parliaments to cooperate with PAP to formulate and domesticate laws in a way that can thrust the continent to defeat her challenges.
South African President Jacob Zuma said lack of vision in Africa was best exemplified by lack of clear infrastructure linkages among them, which saw people travel to Europe to connect flights to neighbouring countries.
This and other man made calamities in Africa like conflict, poverty and war, he said, was an indictment on all leaders in the continent individually and collectively.
He called on African leaders to determine their own destiny. The Pan African Parliament, he added, carried the aspirations of the people of Africa and it had a major role to play in the unity of African countries.
"The Pan African Parliament is the only institution that represents the public in all of Africa… it is the institution that provides the single collective voice of all African people," the South African President said.