National Assembly Speaker Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula congratulated the Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Dr Tulia Ackson, on her election as the 31st President of IPU – a historic first for an African woman to lead the institution.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula led a multi-party South African delegation to the 147th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held this week in Luanda, Angola, where over 700 parliamentarians gathered from around the world.
The Assembly ended yesterday, 27 October, with Dr Ackson elected as the new IPU President, making her the third woman to lead the IPU and the first from Africa.
Dr Ackson won with 57% of the vote held by secret ballot and will serve as IPU President for a three-year term, taking over from Mr Duarte Pacheco, a Member of Parliament in Portugal.
She is currently the speaker of the Bunge, the National Assembly of Tanzania. Ms Ackson also holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Law from the University of Dar es Salaam and a doctorate from the University of Cape Town. She is also an advocate of the High Court.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula hailed the election of an African woman to lead the IPU – a first for the continent – as the biggest achievement of the five-day Assembly. She said Dr Ackson’s election is significant for Africa as it serves to motivate and encourage young parliamentarians to take up positions of leadership and bring meaningful change. She was further encouraged by how the African continent worked together and rallied behind Dr Ackson’s campaign.
South Africa nominated Dr Ackson as a candidate and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum endorsed her nomination. There were three other female candidates from the African continent contesting for the position, including Ms Adji Diarra Mergane Kanouté from Senegal, Ms Catherine Gotani Hara from Malawi, and Ms Marwa Abdibashir Hagi from Somalia.
During the five-day Assembly, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula engaged in various bilateral meetings and courtesy calls to persuade other candidates and parliamentarians to rally behind one candidate from the continent. Rallying behind more than one candidate, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said, would have risked Africa’s chances for the presidency and losing to another geo-political group.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula commended Dr Ackson’s credentials and achievements as a leader of the IPU Geo-Political Group, among others. She said she believes that Dr Ackson will prioritise the issues of the African continent on the IPU’s agenda.
In need of reform
Meanwhile, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said that the IPU needs some reforms, especially following the week’s emergency items (relating to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict) that could not be debated due to the lack of a two-thirds majority vote on both motions tabled. South Africa, on behalf of the Africa Group, Algeria and Kuwait on behalf of the Arab Group, Indonesia, and Iran (Islamic Republic of) proposed a motion entitled “Stopping the war and violations of human rights in Gaza”. Although the motion received significant votes, it failed to meet the required threshold of two-thirds majority to be debated at the Assembly.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said it is disheartening for parliamentarians of the world to come together at a prestigious forum and not debate global issues and crises, and have a voice on the matter even if there are divergent views. She called for the reforms and amendments of the rules of the IPU to ensure that issues of global crisis and conflicts such as the Gaza Strip are prioritised by the Assembly.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula also expressed her gratitude to the outgoing president of the IPU, Mr Pacheco, for his guidance and exemplary leadership. Mr Pacheco appointed two members of the Africa Geo-Political Group as members of the IPU Task Force team on the Ukraine/Russia conflict as he recognised that it was necessary for the Africa Geo-Political Group to be represented in the Task Force.
Since day one, 23 October 2023, Members of the IPU participated in the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, Forum of Young Parliamentarians, and Standing Committees responsible for Peace and International Security, Democracy and Human Rights, United Nations Affairs as well as Sustainable Development Finance and Trade.
The IPU is the global organisation of national parliaments. It was founded more than 130 years ago as the first multilateral political organisation in the world, encouraging cooperation and dialogue between all nations. Today, the IPU comprises 180 national Member Parliaments and 14 regional parliamentary bodies. It promotes democracy and helps parliaments become stronger, younger, gender-balanced, and more innovative. It also defends the human rights of parliamentarians through a dedicated committee made up of MPs from around the world.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.