The upcoming Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa would be held under very strict COVID-19 Protocols due to the third wave of the global pandemic in the South African country.
The Clerk to the continental legislative body, Vipya Harawa, disclosed in a virtual press conference held over Zoom on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 that, “it is absolutely out of necessity that the upcoming session would have to be held in person.”
The Press Conference was used to outline the Programme of activities for the upcoming Ordinary Session where the election of a new Bureau to steer the affairs of PAP and the elections of the leadership of the Permanent Committees and Regional caucuses are supposed to be the main highlights of the two-week session.
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has been named as the Special Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker at the opening of the Session in recognition of his government’s ‘Year of Return’ initiative to reconnect African Americans to the continent which falls directly in line with the African Union (AU) theme for 2021: “Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.’’
Meanwhile, the South African variant of Covid-19 which is said to be more infectious, has caused the government of South Africa to put alert systems in place in order to control and prevent mass infections of the disease among the population. The country is currently on adjusted Alert level 1 which has been in place since March 1, 2021.
From the gazetted adjusted Alert Level 1 regulations (Gazette 44201 of 28 February 2021) as adjusted by Gazette 44367 of 30 March 2021 and Gazette 44485 of 22 April 2021, most normal activities can resume with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times, while the population is prepared for an increase in alert levels if necessary.
The Clerk to the Pan-African Parliament, Vipya Harawa, said the Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament is coming on the backdrop of absolute necessity since the MPs need to meet themselves face to face because of the nature of the personal interactions required in elections and the amendment of rules among others, which are not feasible on a virtual Session.
“The rules have no room for virtual meetings currently and therefore there is the need for the rules to be amended in a physical meeting because the framers did not foresee a situation in the life of PAP where they have to meet virtually. That is why it is out of necessity to meet in person,” the Clerk said.
According to him, this session would adopt new methods and approaches in the conduct of business in the House including the swearing in of new members in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols in that country.
For example, there would be no Bible, Quran or any other swearing in material which would be handed over to any member during the swearing in order to avoid any physical contacts. The iconic sash which the new Members used to be decorated with, would be worn by the MPs themselves.
All the members would be taking the oath at the same time and would also have to read the oath from a screen instead of a document to reduce the time spent together in the Chamber and reduce any risk of possible infection among the MPs during the swearing in. The Speaker and the Clerks would not wear Official attire, and even the usual march into the Chamber has been suspended.
Wearing of mask would be insisted on at all times while hand sanitization points would be located at every 20-meter interval and at every entrance as well as thermometers placed at vantage points to be taking the temperatures of members at all times. Anyone found with abnormal temperatures at any point in time would be denied access to the Chamber.
While a mobile clinic would be stationed within the precincts of PAP, all MPs have been asked to take Travel Insurance when they come to South Africa for extra precautions.
Source: Clement Akoloh||parliamentnews360.com