The Pan African Parliament should be a parliament of African people - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Pan African Parliament should be a parliament of African people


The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is one of the ten organs provided for in Article 5 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU). It is in principle, the third highest organ of the AU after the Assembly of Heads of State and the Executive Council.

PAP is intended to act as a voice of the African people by presenting “their opinions, concerns, and aspirations and thus effectively hold the governing institutions of the AU accountable in the implementation of policies and programs as well as in the allocation and use of public resources for promoting just, equitable and sustainable development for all the people of Africa.

The composition, powers, functions and organization of the Parliament are defined in the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan African Parliament ratified in 2004.

On June 4, 2014, a Revised PAP Protocol (also known as the Malabo Protocol) was adopted by the Twenty Third Ordinary Summit of the Assembly held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The Malabo Protocol is still going through the ratification process.

Article 4 of the PAP Protocol provides that representation shall be based on equality of states and that each member state shall be represented in the Parliament by five parliamentarians. And therein lies the contradiction!

While the Constitutive Act envisioned a Parliament that represents African peoples, the drafters of the PAP Protocol opted for a parliament of country delegations!

And as we know, all the African countries with the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia were colonized by Western powers.

Therefore, the creation and boundaries of African countries have their origin in the Scrabble for Africa, when the major European powers divided up the continent amongst themselves.

By constituting a Pan African Parliament whose composition and/ or membership is based on the outcome of the Scrabble for Africa and equality without regard to population (that is, African people), PAP cannot be said to be representative of African people.

According to Worldometer, the nine most populous African countries in 2021 are:














DR Congo



South Africa














On the other hand, the six least populous countries in the continent according to the same source are:








Sao Tome & Principe



Cape Verde



Western Sahara








The composition of the Assembly, Executive Council, Permanent Representatives Committee and the other AU organ  is based on equality of states and understandably so.

However, parliamentarians all over the world, represent constituencies which are usually delineated on the basis of population or number of voters. The only exceptions are where there are bicameral legislatures in which one of the chambers is constituted on the basis of equality while the other chamber is based on population.

But the Constitutive Act of the African Union envisioned a parliament to provide a common platform for African peoples and their grassroots organizations to be more involved in the decisions and decision-making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.

The European Parliament is made up of 705 members from 27 member-states and representation is not based on equality of states! Yet the African Union is patterned after the European Union with comparable organs and institutions.

In effect, France has more influence on what goes on at the Pan African Parliament through her former colonies than it does at the European Parliament. And we wonder why Africa has become a chess board!

Is it fair and equitable that Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria (with population of 206,139,589) has the same number of members at PAP with say Seychelles (population of 98,347) which is the least populous African country? Or that Ethiopia with a population of 114,963,588 has the same number of representatives as Cape Verde with a population of 559,987?

The recent ugly incident that led to the indefinite suspension of Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament is an ugly reminder of how polarized the PAP has become. One could notice from the debates that the parliamentarians are sharply and bitterly divided with battle line drawn between the Anglophone and francophone countries. They were even ready to fight each other and punches alleged to have been thrown! So much for “One Africa, One Voice.

Speaking in an interview with the SABC on the incident, a member of the PAP and leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Hon. Julius Malema remarked that the francophone countries still admire their colonizers and worship symbols of France.

“They see themselves as French. They have to do away with that. We can’t do that by being pretentious. They see us as enemies and we don’t see them like that. That’s why throughout we have been electing them, we never had a problem with them occupying leadership positions,” said Malema.

The solution lies in amending the PAP Protocol to be in line with the vision of the founders of the African Union in establishing the Pan African Parliament as the African people’s parliament and not African countries’ parliament. Composition of the parliament, just like the European Parliament must in addition, include on other factors such as population and not just equality of states as we know that those states are the outcome of the Scrabble for Africa by Western powers.

If the European Union with a population of less than 600 million and 27 countries can have a parliament with 705 members, then African with a population of about 1.3 billion people and 55 countries should have a parliament of at least 700 members so that such countries as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, DR Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Algeria and others with more African people should have more parliamentarians than say Cape Verde, Comoros or Djibouti.

After all, financial contributions by member-states of the AU are not based on equality of states.

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