Charumbira appreciates MPs for their understanding, assures them of better welfare - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Charumbira appreciates MPs for their understanding, assures them of better welfare

The Acting President of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira has expressed appreciation to the members of the continental parliament for their understanding as to why it was imperative for PAP to implement the decisions of the African Union (AU) policy organs on rotational presidency.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Charumbira stated that outside the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the governing instrument and institutional tool of the administration of the organs within the AU including PAP is the “Decisions” of the policy organs of the AU.

Our parliament has followed the AU decisions in other thematic areas such as financial regulations, staff structure and recently, on COVID-19 pandemic”.

PAP’s failure in the past to implement some decisions of the AU Policy Organs has caused serious rife in inter-institutional relationships.

“The persistent defiance has tarnished PAP’s reputation as a parliamentary body where the rule of law, adherence to democratic tenets and principle of representative democracy is expected”.

PAP which is supposed to provide oversight to other organs, was perceived an institution which disregards AU rules and regulations, decisions, principles, values and practices”

Relationship between PAP and PRC

“I approach my candidacy for President of the Pan African Parliament with a firm conviction that I possess the requisite experience and knowledge to offer our parliament a visionary, purposeful, and competent leadership with the integrity to usher in a paradigm shift to a more positive relationship with the African Union, the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) and other relevant AU organs”.

One area that continues to pose a significant challenge for the PAP is in the relationship with the PRC and the Executive Council who have been asking serious questions and raised several concerns concerning the bad image of PAP, the lack of respect for AU decisions, failure to adhere to institutional regulations, perceived absence of viable results to underscore our legislative mandate and the lack of understanding of vital parliamentary processes. The misunderstanding has degenerated to the point where the role of PAP is not understood and our outputs not appreciated”.

Chief Charumbira stated that the Pan African Parliament has come of age and has demonstrated through the course of past engagements that “we are now ready to take our proper place at the continent. We have established tangible framework for sustaining democratic governance and ideals, remained instrumental in promoting Peace and Security in Africa and championed gender equality and affirmative action for women across Africa”.

He noted that despite these accomplishments, much work remains to be done to enhance and strengthen PAP’s global influence, prominence and capacity in democratic culture, good governance, transparency and the rule of law. “To achieve this will require not only our complete institutional evolution with full legislative powers but a revitalization of our institutional relationship, cooperation and respect with the PRC and the AUC”.

Welfare of Parliamentarians

According to Chief Charumbira, the poor relationship that exists between PAP and the PRC has been a “direct consequence of poor leadership, failure to adhere to the principles of the rule of law, and flagrant disregard of AU decisions with relative impunity. These have had a negative impact on the respect typically accorded a legislative body. This loss of respect has compromised our image and also led to loss of benefits, allowances, and other logistical support and benefits to members of the Pan African Parliament”.

He observed that the $11 million (eleven million dollars) 2021 budget of PAP is almost less than 50% of the 2020 PAP budget due to cuts in such areas as allowances of members of Parliament, budget for Committee Sittings, as well as budgetary provision for parliamentary sessions. It got to a point where the 31st Ordinary Summit of the AU held in July 2018 at Mauritania, suspended the release of PAP’s 2020 Budget pending a review of the organizational structure and audit of PAP.

To repair this image and restore PAP to its foundational reputation requires a leader who understands the vision of AU since the inception of PAP. It needs a visionary leader with unique institutional memory and knowledge of the depth of our challenges and an uncommon appreciation of where we came from and where we intend to go.  In addition to leadership experience in National Assembly, it needs someone with demonstrable capability and competencies in relevant committees, legislative functions and administrative structures within PAP”.

“The governing instrument of the African Union is structured where key decisions are made within the Executive Council. PAP as an organ of the AU must adopt a paradigm shift and work within the framework of the AU. The efficacy of this process and the actualization of our institutional mandate including those decisions that directly relate to benefits of MP’s require the leadership of someone with deep familiarity, experience and knowledge of those institutions and inner workings of the Executive council and the PRC. The relationships with those institutions remain vital and require someone with practical experience and the integrity to proffer pragmatic solutions to those issues that are unique to the PAP and affect MP’s at the moment”.

“I am aware that those issues have been on the agenda of the PRC since January 2020 and under my leadership as Acting President, PRC undertook to hold a retreat with the Bureau of PAP where those issues that affect MP’s, their membership and conditions under which they work at PAP were the central focus of the agenda. I am a leader who is very conversant with those issues and possesse the requisite respect and integrity to effectively articulate those issues with result.

Unconstitutional change in government

Chief Charumbira observed that the 2021 Bureau election came at a defining moment in the history of the Pan African Parliament when the continent is facing significant challenges with the threats of the Covid-19 global pandemic, political instabilities and unconstitutional changes in government in Mali and Chad with pockets of unrest in several regions. “These challenges continue to test our resolve and collective disposition to constitutional democracy and requires a President that is tested, proven and established with the requisite experience to embrace with efficiency the huge demands of this office”.

“Throughout the course of our parliamentary engagements at the Pan African Parliament, we have consistently articulated a shared philosophy of entrenching in the continent, a political culture that is premised on constitutional democracy and promotes a system of governance that is not only representative, but reflective of regular, transparent, free and fair elections. This foundational objective of PAP that is equally encapsulated in the institutional priorities of notable international organizations such as our parent organization, the African Union, other regional bodies such as ECOWAS, EALA, SADC etc, reflects an unyielding commitment to the consolidation of democratic institutions, culture, good governance, transparency and the rule of law in Africa that is anchored on a peaceful transfer of power through a democratic process.

At the heart of this principle, as contained in Article 30 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union is a repudiation of the unconstitutional change of government and a corresponding denunciation of any institutional and legislative structures whose establishments are antithetical to our democratic ideals or are construed a product of an undemocratic process”.

“Throughout the transformation trajectory of this parliament from an advisory and consultative body to an institution endowed with legislative competence, we fiercely articulated a vision to our leaders across the continent that a transformed Pan African Parliament with legislative powers will provide an indispensable platform for the actualization of our collective and shared objectives of promoting continental integration and democratic principles. This principle was a major catalyst that propelled the successful arrogation of legislative powers to this our great parliamentary body”.

“It is my informed contention that it will be a fundamental breach of faith and trust, and an unfathomable malfeasance and complete abdication of our obligation under the African Union protocol/charter, if our institution that is reputed as an instrument of democracy in the continent is seen to recognize or accord parliamentary legitimacy to any legislative delegation that is considered a product of an undemocratic process”.

“This anomaly if allowed to persist will diminish our global influence and relegate us to the status of a mere rubber stamp political institution without tangible legislative or democratic principles. If we do not as an institution sustain a legacy of zero tolerance for defiance of democratic tenets in our continent and if we accept a military and unconstitutional transitional framework in any member state, PAP will no longer be seen as a serious institution and watch dog in promoting democracy. This will profoundly erode our institutional integrity as a pillar of democracy and it will be far more devastating to our future viability if as contemplated by a few, a President of PAP is allowed to be produced from a body that is outside of a democratic process”.

It is instructive to note that this democratic principle has been sustained at other institutions such as ECOWAS where as in the case of the Members of Parliament from Mali, the regional body refused to acknowledge the members appointed by the military Transitional National Council (CNT) following the dissolution of the parliament that were democratically elected”.

“There is an unbroken chain of legislative precedence on this matter that a failure to uphold this position as has been consistently done in the past by PAP, will be detrimental to our image, tarnish our reputation with other organs and further erode confidence in our parliamentary body as a beacon of democracy. Democracy takes many forms and is defined by values and norms. Undeniably, respect for our democratic values and practices should encompass far greater values than are embodied in just making laws; it should inspire incomparable devotion where respect for those laws is sacrosanct”.

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