By Own Correspondent – JOHANNESBURG — The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) today commemorated 50 years of independence of 17 African countries. The Guest of Honour for this ceremony was the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi who was received by the President of the PAP, Hon. Dr. Moussa Idriss Ndélé.
In his speech, the former President of Tanzania lamented the fact that African countries have political independence, but not economic independence. According to him, “the attainment of political independence by the African countries did not lead to economic independence. African countries soon realized that there was still a long road towards attaining economic independence”.
He also noted that, despite the fact that most African countries have attained independence, there is still the colonization of the Western Sahara which remains the unfinished business of the political emancipation of Africa.
He added that, the African continent is also faced with the scourge of conflicts, the ravages of HIV/AIDs, climate change and others. All these, he underscored, have contributed to the economic woes of the continent in spite of its independence.
He indicated that as the 17 countries mark 50 years of independence, Africa must use the occasion to institute a culture of respect for democracy, good governance and human rights. These challenges according, to him, must be vividly addressed by the African Union and its Organs. He urged the Pan-African Parliament to take up the task of ensuring that these eminent issues are properly dealt with for the betterment of the entire continent.
Later, while addressing a press briefing at the PAP, Ex-President Mwinyi was adamant that there was no room for compromise when it comes to promoting good governance and ensuring that there are no human rights abuses on the continent. Mr. Mwinyi said it was unfortunate that some leaders in Africa don’t uphold these values. The former President also went on to say, “It will be up to the media to ensure that these two things are being observed.”
On the issue of rigging elections he emphasized that it was unacceptable but admitted it was difficult to control. Despite the negative things, he remained hopeful: “Democracy will win the day. Like ordinary life we all hate stealing and we all hate telling lies but stealing is still there. My hope is fewer countries will do this and more countries will practice good governance.”
In the official luncheon that was organized to mark the occasion, the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr. Paul Mashatile called for democracy, good governance, peace and unity in the continent. In his remarks, the South Africa Deputy Minister said African liberation movements were led by those who sought to transform Africa from being positioned at the periphery of world power, to a vibrant cultural, political, social and intellectual space. “It is in this context that we meet here today also to assert the cultural component, a pillar that is central to the success of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development,” he said.