Pan African Parliament set to implement rotational presidency - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Pan African Parliament set to implement rotational presidency

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is set to implement rotational presidency following the conclusion of debates on the report on the review of the amendments to the PAP Rules of Procedure presented by the Rapporteur of the Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline (Rules Committee) Hon. Pupurai Tugarepi (Zimbabwe).

There was drama on the Wednesday when the Chairperson of the Rules Committee, Hon. Djibril War declined to present the report on the ground that the Rules Committee could not sit to approve the report.

This prompted the Acting President of PAP, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira to adjourn the sitting for thirty (30) minutes to enable the Rules Committee to briefly meet to review the report.

When the Session resumed, the Hon. War still declined to present the report which prompted the Acting President to call on the Rules Committee Rapporteur to present the report.

African Parliamentary News recalls that the Rules Committee had announced the adoption of a change in PAP’s Rules of Procedure to allow for the rotation of the presidency of the continental parliament effective from the May 2021 Bureau election.

This was at the end of a five-day meeting organized for members of PAP’s Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline (Rules Committee), Chairpersons of Regional Caucuses and Permanent Committees, Members of the Bureau as well as the PAP Secretariat convened at the Parliament’s Headquarters in Midrand, South Africa from 8 to 12 March 2021 as part of technical and political activities aimed at the revision of the Rules of Procedure of the legislative arm of the African Union (AU).   

The Rules of Procedure of the Parliament had been amended in May 2017 vide PAP.4/PLN/RES/08/MAY.17 to include the principle of rotation of the office of the President of the Pan-African Parliament.

African parliamentary News further recalls that the Thirty First Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council  held from June 27 to July 1, 2017 (Doc. EX.CL/1028(XXXI) called on the Pan African Parliament to apply the African Union values, rules and regulations in managing all activities and of the organ, including rotation of the Bureau were and Presidency. 

A public affairs commentator and former Senior Legislative Aide/ Chief of Staff to the late Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi (former President of the Pan African Parliament) Dr. Maurice Ezuruike observed that “One of the core institutional principles that tests our continental parliament’s disposition to democratic tenets and values is the issue of rotation for the Presidency of PAP. In our pluralistic democracy, regional balance and respect for an orderly distribution of power within the AU family is a quintessential element in a functional representative democracy”.

“The Pan African Parliament and indeed the African Union have instituted policies that emphasize the importance of rekindling a sense of regional integration, unity, inclusion and solidarity. Undeniably, the integration process of our continent can only be made feasible when all members of the family are given a fair and equitable access to the distribution of power. This basic philosophy underlies the centrality of the AU decision with regards to rotation of the Presidency and is aimed at integrating the regional caucuses within the framework of the African Union”. 

“The issue of rotation of the Presidency also reflects a long standing value in our representative democracy. The Pan African Parliament is blessed with five regions (Central, East, North, South, and West) that represent the entire people of Africa. While we may have been divided by our colonial masters along linguistic and religious lines, we have demonstrated throughout our history of common struggle that artificial barriers can never outstrip our collective aspirations for equity and unity. It is in recognition of this quest for participatory democracy, unity and inclusive growth that the AU issued decisions and PAP accepted the establishment of rotation for the Presidency of PAP.  This is precisely the same framework adopted at the level of the Heads of State and Governments for the African Union where the Chairperson of the AU is rotated annually among member states”. 

Dr. Ezuruike recalled that the AU was expectedly unhappy with the persistent defiance and disrespect by an organ and consequently issued another letter in 2018 reminding PAP of the imperative of embracing the principles of rotation.

“In a quest to forestall a collateral breakdown in PAP’s relationship with the AU with its attendant and collateral consequences to the Parliament’s agenda, a motion was introduced by a South African MP Kalian. The motion which sought to reaffirm PAP’s commitment and adherence to regional rotation of the Presidency was unanimously adopted. It further mandates that the rule be amended to incorporate the principle of rotation. 

“The AU had issued this decision in 2017 and in 2018 and those two pronouncements confer sufficient legitimacy to its application. The governing instrument and institutional tool of the administration of the organs within the AU is the “decisions”. Once a decision is passed, compliance is compelled by the relevant organ. PAP is not an exception and has notably followed AU regulations in other thematic areas such as financial regulations, staff structure and including most recently on COVID global pandemic with respect to virtual meetings. In all these instances, PAP has complied without the necessity of a concomitant codification of such decisions in our internal rules before implementation. PAP should not be selective on which decisions of the AU, it wants to comply. 

“PAP’s failure in the past to adhere to Executive Council decision as democratically promulgated by AU has caused serious rift in inter institutional relationships. This persistent defiance has tarnished our reputation as a parliamentary body where rule of law, adherence to democratic tenets and principle of representative democracy should be our cornerstone. Consequently, PAP who is supposed to provide oversight functions is now perceived as an institution which disregards AU rules and regulations, decisions, principles, values and practices. It is an established philosophy that democratic tenets and traditions demands strict adherence to institutional principles even where it is inconvenient to do so. It is those values such as respect for AU decisions, principles and norms that define PAP’s institutional integrity. The Northern and Southern regions should be granted exclusive right to the Presidency in the upcoming May 2021 election”.

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