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Tuesday, June 26, 2018


H. E. Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang
Inaugurated on March 8, 2004, the Pan African Parliament (PAP) is one of the nine organs of the African Union (AU) established under Article 2 of the Protocol Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan African Parliament, in accordance with Article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The composition, powers, functions and organization of PAP are defined in the said Protocol and seats in Midrand, Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa.

On June 27, 2014 a revised Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan African Parliament which granted full legislative powers to PAP was adopted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea by the Assembly of Heads of States and is awaiting ratification by member states. It will come into effect when ratified by a simple majority of member states.

PAP is intended to serve as an institution that will provide a common platform for African Peoples to fully participate in the decision-making processes for the political and socio-economic development and integration of the Continent particularly through the harmonization and coordination of the policies and laws made at the national and regional levels.
The Parliament is made up of three main bodies: the plenary, the Bureau and the Secretariat. There are also Eleven Permanent Committees which were created to deal with different sectors of life in Africa. The Plenary is the main decision-making body of the Parliament and consists of representatives from the member states each of which sends a delegation of five parliamentarians to the Parliament, at least one of whom must be a woman. The composition of the delegation should reflect the political diversity of the member state's legislature.

The Bureau is the leadership group of the Parliament and consists of the President and four Vice-Presidents. Each member of the Bureau represents a different region of Africa. The Secretariat assists in the day-to-day running of the Parliament, undertaking duties such as minuting meetings, organizing elections and managing staff. The Secretariat consists of a Clerk, two Deputy Clerks and other support staff.
Hon. Haïdara Aichata Cissé, 
The First Parliament (2004 to 2008) had Hon. Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania as President while the Second Parliament (2009 to 2012) had Dr. Idris Ndele Moussa of Chad as President. The Third Parliament (2012 to 2015) had Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka  Amadi of Nigeria as President while the Fourth Parliament (2015 to 2018) had Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang of Cameroon as President. Each Parliament has tenure of three years and consists of Six Ordinary Sessions with elections into the Bureau held at the Sixth Ordinary Session of each Parliament. 

The Sixth Ordinary Session of the Fourth Parliament of the Parliament witnessed the re-election of H.E. Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang as President of the Parliament.  He was declared winner of the May 10, 2018 election after polling 133 votes, followed by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira from Zimbabwe who got 47votes while Hon. Mostafa El Gendy from Egypt got 44 votes.

Accepting the outcome of the keenly contested election, Hon. Charumbira declared that “democracy had prevailed” while Hon. Mostafa El Gendy said he had confidence that Hon. Dang would transform PAP. “This is a new era, a rebirth of PAP. Let us support Nkodo Dang who prevailed following a publicly witnessed democratic election process. Dang has the capacity to do it. As Africa, let us rally behind him as our chosen leader. He has always implemented efforts to unite us as a continent,” said El Gendy.
Hon. Bouras Djamal 

In his acceptance speech, the re-elected President Dang said: “I am hoping this is a lesson to my fellow Africans across the continent that democratic processes must be embraced and appreciated. The parliamentarians from across the continent present here today cast their votes freely and this is a signal that we are in the correct path towards embracing the democratic processes of running our elections. Let this not end here, but let it be a continental practice and culture.”

Hon. Dang expressed gratitude to both Hon. Chief Charumbira and El Gend for accepting the result of the election: “I am pleased that our experienced parliamentarian brother Charumbira allowed democracy to prevail by accepting the results. This is the correct path that we are taking as PAP and I am as well optimistic that this gesture will not end here, but will be adopted by our parliamentarians and educate our peoples in their communities on democratic processes,”

 “We need to work forward as a team. There are a lot of things that we are still learning and implementing. If we are given support by PAP parliamentarians, we will achieve them. We might not agree on various things, but let us unite for a better continent. Long live Africa, long live PAP,” he added.

Also elected are the other members of the Bureau namely Hon. Stephen Julius Masele of Tanzania (East Africa) as First Vice President, Hon. Haïdara Aichata Cissé of Mali (West Africa) as Second Vice President  and Hon. Bouras Djamal of Algeria (North Afica) as Third Vice President. The Southern African Region does not have a vice–president as the caucus had not yet nominated a candidate. The Clerk of the Parliament will later call a fresh election for Southern Africa to take the position of Fourth Vice President.

Swearing in of South Africa's delegation, May 7, 2018
With the euphoria over the successful conclusion of the Bureau election in which both the winners and losers openly accepting the outcome of the election, a new dawn in the affairs of the parliament was expected. However PAP has instead been in the news for the wrong reasons. For example, the South African delegation to the parliament has continued to express concerns over Dang’s leadership. And taking a cue from their parliamentarians, the South African media (both print and electronic) have been unrelenting in their criticism of the Hon. Dang’s leadership.

There is the danger that the infighting with the attendant bad publicity could seriously dent the image of PAP in South Africa, being the host country especially at a time that the Parliament is seeking to secure more meaningful legislative powers through the ratification of the Malabo Protocol.  This is seen as important in the broader context of the drive towards integration on the continent. 

It is important to bear in mind that there are very important African Union (AU) Legal Instruments that are yet to be ratified by South Africa including the Malabo Protocol and the Continental Free Trade Agreement (which it did not sign in the first place). Can we realistically expect their ratifications in the face of these politically motivated attacks on the PAP? Are there no institutional mechanisms under the current PAP Protocol or Rules of Procedure to deal with any legitimate concerns of the South African parliamentarians? Some of their parliamentarians have even gone to the extreme of questioning the continued hosting PAP by the South African Government. Such demagoguery is very dangerous.
PAP in session

The portrayal of the leadership of the parliament as corrupt is bound to raise even more questions about the institution’s relevance and continued existence. Causing division within the institution could potentially slow down the quest for full legislative powers to make binding laws.

We therefore plead that the newly elected leadership of the Pan African Parliament should not allow itself to be distracted from pursuing the Parliament’s mandate including advancing Africa’s Agenda 2063 programmes which has outlined seven goals, to be achieved over the next 50 years, that are central to achieving political and economic development in Africa. These include promoting peace and security, good governance, youth development and gender equity. A Pan African Parliament with real legislative powers could lead the quest for full integration of the Continent as well as harmonization of standards and policies across the continent.

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