ANC chief whip pushes for equal representation at the AU
Pemmy Majodina has taken the fight for women and disabled people to the highest level on the African continent.
ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina. Picture: Twitter
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina has taken the fight for women and disabled people to the highest level on the African continent – telling the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to walk the talk and improve on its poor representation of people with disabilities, and of women, on its structures.
Majodina challenged the PAP to observe the provisions of Article 4(2) of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the PAP, which states that each state shall be represented by five members, with at least one of them being a woman.
She said the parliament must set aside a day of accountability to check on the progress made in the ratification of the AU protocol pertaining to human and rights of people with disabilities in the continent.
“I am deeply concerned that, as Africans, we seem to be good in talking and crafting good laws and policies, but drag our feet in the implementation of those laws and policies.
“It is high time that we begin to walk the talk. We must ensure that our countries’ next delegations to the PAP include a person with a disability.”
Majodina highlighted that the PAP structures such as its bureaux had only one woman (out of the five), with the bureaux of committees, the leaders of country delegations and regional caucuses all dominated by men.
“Even within the PAP staff and officials from our national parliaments, there are no staff members or officials with disabilities.
“We must respect people with disabilities and do nothing about [them] without [them],” she said.
Majodina’s call came as Africa was identified as still being behind when it came to female representation and promotion of people with disabilities within the states’ respective public institutions.
However, progress had been made in some areas, including the election of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the first female chairperson of the Africa Union Commission until her term ended in January 2017.
Dlamini-Zuma contested and lost against President Cyril Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency, a precursor towards becoming the country’s president.
Besides the current president of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde, other female former African presidents included Liberia’s then Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Joyce Banda of Malawi and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius.
There had been a string of female acting presidents in several African states.
Majodina, who was speaking during the debate of the PAP’s committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability’s report on the Draft Model Disability Law, called for concrete action by the PAP. She said the parliament must set aside a day of accountability to check on the progress made in the ratification of the AU protocol on rights and disabilities.
Only five AU members states out of 55 have signed the protocol but none have ratified it yet. Those who signed are Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Gabon, South Africa and Togo.
South Africa ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities in 2007 and has embarked on a structured process to embed the obligations in law and policies.
Former minister of justice Michael Masutha is partially blind, while Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu is also partially blind.