Pan African Parliament kicks off in style

Hundreds of guests and delegates gathered for the opening of the Pan African Parliament’s (PAP) second sitting at the Gallagher Estate conference centre in Midrand on Thursday morning.

A jazz ensemble entertained those assembled in the massive hall set aside for the R7,3-million opening bash, as guests started taking up their seats shortly before 11am.

Dancers and drummers welcomed guests outside the hall.

Many of the delegates wore colourful traditional dress, matching the African theme of the venue’s decorations.

According to the programme, new members of the Parliament were to be sworn in before the start of the official opening—scheduled for about 11am with the arrival of President Thabo Mbeki and his visiting Indian counterpart, Abdul Kalam.

There were long queues at the accreditation centre, with some journalists, delegates and guests waiting in line for up to one-and-a-half hours.

This was the first sitting of the PAP at its new permanent seat, South Africa.

Delegates from 46 countries that have ratified the PAP protocol are to take part in deliberations from this Friday until October 7.

Gallagher Estate is to house the Parliament for its first five years, whereafter it will be housed at an as-yet undecided venue in Gauteng.

Thursday’s ceremony was to be opened with prayers by representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and traditional African faiths.

Delegates from the East African Legislative Assembly, the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States were expected to address the assembly, as would PAP president Gertrude Mongella, deputy African Union chairperson Patrick Mazimhaka and Mbeki.

Representatives of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and African Union president Olusegun Obasanjo would also deliver messages.—Sapa

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