South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela has told a gathering of parliament members from across Africa that democracy depends on good governance and progress in the battle against poverty. Mr. Mandela made the remarks at the opening of the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa.
One of Africa's most respected statesmen, Nelson Mandela, Monday told members of the Pan-African Parliament that they have a responsibility to the millions of people who struggled over the years for democracy, freedom and equality.
"Too many lives were sacrificed in the liberation struggle across Africa for us not to ensure that we create transparent and accountable systems of government on all levels," Mandela said.
He said poverty, illiteracy, the AIDS virus and the lack of clean water and sanitation remain some of the biggest challenges for Africa. And, he underscored that success in the fight against them is crucial to the viability of democracy on the continent.
The former president and freedom fighter spoke in Midrand outside Johannesburg at the opening of the sixth session of the assembly. Its 265 members are elected by the parliaments of each of Africa's 53 nations.
The Pan-African Parliament was launched two years ago with the aim of creating a continent-wide legislative body. It is to receive full law making powers in three years.
However, the fledgling organization has been beset by financial problems.
The current session was nearly canceled because of a shortfall in the Parliament's $24 million budget, which is funded by the African Union and African governments.
Mr. Mandela's rare public appearance coincided with the launch of a trust fund to help finance the parliament's activities.
Mr. Mandela praised the fund as a valuable initiative, but warned that it must be an example of good governance and transparency.
Germany has pledged one-half million dollars to the trust fund, and the United Nations has pledged $50,000.