Lawmakers and speakers of parliaments from different African countries united in the African Parliamentary Union (APU) are gathered in Rwanda for a week-long conference to discuss good governance and democracy with a view of uplifting living standards on the continent.
This Monday, while opening the 61st executive committee meeting, the speaker of the chamber of deputies Rose Mukantabana said that the role of parliamentarians is vital in strengthening democracy. "We are the ones who vote laws and control the governments, if we do our job well, it will influence our leaders in government positively towards adopting democratic and good governance principles," Mukantabana told the African parliamentarians.
She further stressed that parliamentarians have to always bear in mind that Africa will be developed by Africans. "We as parliamentarians must take the lead. We have to help our continent push ahead towards peace and sustainable development for a developed and democratic Africa," the speaker said.
Edna Madzongwe, president of the senate of Zimbabwe and deputy chairperson of the executive committee of APU, told the delegates that parliamentarians should always promote representative democracy, thus strengthening the role and prestige of the parliament institution. "Our union should and must contribute to achieving the goals of peace and development pursued by the African Union (AU)."
She stressed that APU should do its utmost to bring all national parliaments in Africa under one parliamentary family, whose ideas, opinions, traditions and cultural expressions may differ, but are guided by the willingness to work together to promote peace and lasting development for the continent. "This should be our union's true calling."
Madzongwe told the lawmakers that the conference should be an occasion for exchange of ideas, but mainly, a time to assess the impact of African parliamentarians' decisions in their respective nations' development. APU's vice chair noted that the union has economic challenge which makes not perform as high as it should.
The conference is attended by delegates from 40 African countries members of the APU. It started with the executive committee meeting, and there will be also a time for APU committee if women parliamentarians where delegates will be discussing gender related issues and how to increase African women's participation in their countries' leadership. The conference will end with as two-day 35th conference of APU.
Participants will also have time for upside country visits to witness Rwanda's different stories from the grass-root communities.