memfys hospital Enugu

Monday, August 6, 2018



PAP President Roger Nkodo Dang
One of the decisions taken at the 31st Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) which took place between June 28 and July 2, 2018 in Mauritania was the suspension of the 2019 budget of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) pending the completion of an independent audit exercise. The decision followed the recommendation of the Permanent Representatives Committee/ Executive Council.

That decision, in my opinion is inconsistent with the vision of the founding fathers of the AU and has far-reaching implications as far as the institutional development of this continental parliamentary body is concerned. The problem is not with the conduct of an audit which of course, is normal but the sensational suspension of PAP’s 2019 budget and “ordering” the PAP President not to fire or hire any staff while the audit lasts unless with the approval of the AU Chairperson. Let us attempt to make sense out of the whole saga.

African Union structure
According to the Constitutive Act of the AU, the Assembly is the supreme organ of the AU and is made up of the Heads of State and Government of the member states. Its decisions are based on the recommendations of the Executive Council (the next organ), made up of the foreign ministers of member states of the AU.
AU President Paul Kagame

The third listed organ in the AU's Constitutive Act is the Pan African Parliament, intended to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent. PAP’s composition, powers, functions and organization are defined in the Protocol establishing the parliament (emphasis added).

Permanent Representatives Committee
Listed as the sixth organ of the AU in the Constitutive Act is the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) composed of the Permanent Representatives (ambassadors) of member countries to the AU and is charged with preparing the work of the Executive Council.

The Assembly (which is the supreme organ) relies on the work and recommendations of the Executive Council (the second organ) for its decisions while the Executive Council, in turn relies on the work and recommendations of the PRC (the sixth organ) for the work it submits to the Assembly. As a result, the PRC has become a very powerful organ as the organ on ground at the AU headquarters, to the extent that the fear of the PRC is now, the beginning of wisdom.

Although the Executive Council is supposed to review the work of the PRC, they hardly have time to meaningfully embark on such reviews. Whatever the PRC submits to the Executive Council is what usually gets to the Assembly without modifications.

The Pan African Parliament
African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki
By practice and convention, executive bodies are answerable to the parliament through oversight. In the order of protocol, the PRC as an AU organ is not higher than PAP. As presently constituted, PAP parliamentarians are members of parliament of member states with the power to screen and confirm both the foreign affairs ministers (i.e. members of the AU’s Executive Council) and the AU ambassadors (the PRC). Is it then not absurd that the same people confirmed by the PAP parliamentarians back home will now come to the AU and turn the tables around?

According to the Constitutive Act (Article 8), it is PAP that has the authority to discuss its own budget and the budget of the AU and make recommendations to the relevant policy organs. It is PAP that should receive the audit and other reports and make recommendations to the Assembly.

PRC’s history of interference
Amongst the four AU organs mentioned above, PAP is the last to be inaugurated in 2004 with Hon Gertrude Mongella as the pioneer president. Although the framers of the Constitutive Act envisaged an independent PAP whose composition, powers, functions and organization were defined in the Protocol establishing the parliament, the PRC thought otherwise.
Hon Gertrude Mongella PAP President 2004 to 2008

When then PAP President Hon. Mongella with her experience as a former minister  and ambassador in her home country of Tanzania, as well as being former United Nations Under Secretary-General, she rightly ignored the PRC as a lower organ and dealt directly with the Executive Council. As a result the PRC raised issues with her administration and came up with all manner of audit queries, to blackmail PAP to subordinate its authority and independence to the PRC. Hon. Mongella was among other things, accused of not following AU Rules and Regulations even in staff recruitment and structure at PAP!.

When the late Hon. Dr. Idriss Moussa succeeded Hon. Mongella as PAP President in 2009, he bowed to PRC’s “blackmail” and instituted regular interactions and retreats of PRC members with the bureau of PAP committees which helped to mend the relationship. He also agreed to implement the recommendations made by the PRC and the rest is now history.

Dr. Idriss Moussa’s successor, Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi probably not wanting to be blackmailed by the PRC, continued with the process initiated by his predecessor by submitting PAP staff structure to the PRC for review and approval by the Executive Committee. Hon. Amadi also ensured PAP’s compliance with AU rules on administrative and human resource issues even though the contrary was supposed to be the case, i.e. that PAP is an organ whose composition, powers, functions and organization were defined in the Protocol establishing the parliament.

Late Hon. Dr. Idriss Moussa, PAP President
2009 to 2012
One of the most unfortunate aspects of this whole arrangement is that ambassadors for one reason or the other send staff from their missions to represent them at PRC sittings. In the end, it is these staffers that exercise the authority because whatever recommendations they submit, is usually adopted due to lack of time for meaningful review by the superior organs.

For the avoidance of any doubt, this write-up is not intended to condone any financial or administrative malpractice by the PAP President or Bureau if clearly established by the audit. However, the manner in which the exercise is being carried out as if it is intended to ridicule PAP as an institution and subject it to the supervision and control of the PRC leaves much to be desired. After all, two sets of audit are routinely carried out annually by the AU - an internal audit and external audit by independent auditors both of which can unearth any financial irregularities without sensationalizing the issue and attempting to bring PAP to public ridicule.

PAP’s Lack of institutional memory
PAP’s high turn-over of membership does not help matters. For example, during the last Sixth Ordinary Session of the Fourth Parliament in May, almost eighty new parliamentarians were sworn-in which amounts to almost 30% of its membership. New members are routinely sworn-in at the beginning of every session with the resultant loss of institutional memory.

To mitigate the effect of the high turnover of PAP membership and the resultant loss of institutional memory and capacity on continental issues, PAP at the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Third Parliament, passed a Resolution to establish a “Pan African Parliamentary Network” (PAP.3/PL/Res.02(VI)) to consist of former PAP parliamentarians whose objectives shall include to help PAP in its advocacy in favour of the signing, ratification and domestication of the legal instruments of the AU.

Unfortunately, PAP has not been able to implement this very important resolution which could have helped to mitigate the effect of the loss of institutional memory on PAP. By so doing, it failed to build external support mechanisms that can speak for it in times like this. Such a support group of experienced former PAP parliamentarians is necessary for the institutional growth of PAP as an independent legislative organ of the AU and help to ward-off being micro-managed by the PRC.
Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, PAP President
 2012 to 2015
Without taking the necessary actions to facilitate the take-off of the Pan African Parliamentary Network, PAP shot itself in the foot as that body could have been in the fore-front of speaking out for PAP at this critical time. If the Network had been properly constituted in the last three years, it would have been able to support the work PAP is doing considering the fact that PAP parliamentarians are also busy with parliamentary work at their respective national parliaments.

My fear is that the eventual ratification of the Revised PAP Protocol may not totally undo the damage being done to PAP as the body that ought to be conducting oversight on PRC and not PRC engaging in oversight over PAP.

PRC’s mandate of preparing the work of the Executive Council should not have been stretched to include having oversight over PAP. In essence, the decision that PAP President should not hire or fire any staff while the audit lasts without the approval of the AU Chairperson implies subordination of the authority of PAP President to the PRC in the interim. And once a bad precedent is set, it may become the norm. Unfortunately, some of the PAP Parliamentarians especially from the Southern Region Caucus seem to be clapping, for political reasons.

PAP parliamentarians must at this point, close ranks and collectively see this as a fight for the institutional independence of PAP as is the practice in all democracies and envisioned in the Constitutive Act. It should not be seen as a pay-back for the outcome of the last Bureau election as the damage being inflicted will outlast this bureau.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of African Parliamentary News