PAP Southern Regional Caucus condemns undue delay in implementing Council decisions, pushes for election session in March - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

PAP Southern Regional Caucus condemns undue delay in implementing Council decisions, pushes for election session in March

The Southern Regional Caucus in the Pan African Parliament (PAP) has bemoaned the unwarranted delay in organizing the Bureau election mandated by the Executive Council (Council) of the African Union (AU) at the 39th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, 14-15 October 2021, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Caucus pointed out that the Council’s directive to hold PAP bureau election without delay, ”considering the urgency of the matter" was clear and not contingent on any other condition and wondered why the African Union Commission (Commission) should insist on holding consultations with the other regional caucus as a condition precedent to organizing the election”

This was contained in a statement by the Caucus to the Council which commenced its 40th Ordinary Session today Wednesday a copy of which was forwarded to the African Parliamentary News.

The Caucus specifically noted the direct, clear and unambiguous language of paragraph 17 of the Council decision “that in consideration of urgency of the matter, this decision shall be implemented with immediate effect”.

In spite of the clear, explicit and unambiguous language of the said Executive Council Decision of October 2021 directing that elections be held "as soon as possible", there has been no movement on the matter till date”.

The Caucus pointed out that  nowhere in the decisions of the 39th Session of the Executive Council was there a requirement for the Commission to hold consultations with the other regional caucuses before the election neither was there a stipulation that such consultations should be a pre-condition for the convening of the election session.

“It is therefore unreasonable to hinge the non-implementation of the Council decision on a provision that was not contained in the decision”.

According to the statement, “paragraph 17 of the said decision clearly shows that the Council intended that normalcy in the running of the Pan African Parliament should urgently be restored. It is therefore frustrating that for almost two years, the AU has been spending about eight million dollars ($8 million) annually, totaling almost seventeen million dollars ($17 million) in two years on staff for a parliament that has not been sitting. Is it not time for the Union to start expecting value for the money it spends on the Parliament?”

“The reasons advanced to delay elections are unacceptable. The elections should be held latest end of March. We do not require more than a month to hold an Extra Ordinary Session for elections of PAP bureau. The rules require two weeks but we can give even 4 weeks’ notice and still hold elections before end of March. Notice should be given by mid February to National Parliaments and Host country. South African Government is more than ready to host if given 3 week–notice from mid February as she is aware of her obligation to host PAP Statutory meetings in March every year”.

“Article 14(3) of the PAP Protocol gave the Executive Council power to request for an extra-ordinary session of the parliament which in the instant case, is for the sole purpose of conducting elections for the bureau of the parliament as well as the leadership of the regional caucuses and permanent committees. Such an extra-ordinary session requires 14-day notice as provided in Rule 31(1) of PAP’s Rules of Procedure and not a 21-day notice”.

“It is a matter of record that PAP Statutory meetings are held in March, May, August and October annually. Since 2004, the AU and the National Parliaments routinely make budgetary provisions for those statutory meetings in terms of travel and per diem, scheduling the election session in March 2022 will not inconvenience or prejudice any country delegation”.

“In this regard, we refer to the progress report by the delegation that met South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 30 which stated that the Minister informed the delegation that she is in receipt of report of auditors that raised a number of seeming violations of the funding provided by AU and the host government. The PAP Protocol did not envisage a PAP that would be run undemocratically by an unelected sole administrator!”  

“The PRC observation that “underscored the importance of adhering to the decision of prioritizing the holding of PAP elections, rather than focusing on consultations with relevant caucuses” captures the urgency of the issue at hand”.

We submit that in line with recommendation of the PRC, the month of February 2022 should be used to prepare and give the required notices for the election session while the session should be held in March 2022 which is a statutorily calendared month for PAP Committee Sittings. This will also ensure that the new leadership will have adequate time to prepare for the statutory May 2022 session in compliance with Article 14 of the Protocol and Rule 28 of the PAP Rules of Procedure as well as the retreat mandated by the Council”.

It would be recalled that following the disagreement over regional rotation of the presidency of PAP, the AUC Chairperson directed then Acting PAP President Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira to suspend the session for one month which has now turned into eight months. Yet the AUC is saying that they cannot conduct election in March 2022. This is condemnable considering the fact that when the Council took the decision in October to take immediate effect, the Commission did raise any issue as to its ability or preparedness to comply. This is February 2022, three months later and the Commission is insisting that it cannot expeditiously implement the said Council decision. Is this not a clear case of sabotage? Is this not undermining the power and authority of the Council to resolve issues among organs of the Union? Is this not setting a bad and dangerous precedent?

Under what provision of the Constitutive Act of the African Union or the Protocol establishing PAP is the Commission relying on since decisions of the Council are binding on all organs and institutions of the Union as well as member states.

We expect the Council to be outraged by failure as well as the reasons given by the Commission to comply with its October 2021 after three months considering the urgency of the matter. The Council should not be seen as a toothless bull dog. This is particularly so since the October 2021 Council decision on PAP as published in the AU website did not contain any requirement for regional consultations before the election. The decision did not give the Commission any discretion on its implementation and did not contain any language that could be interpreted as mandating the Commission to hold consultations with the other regional causes before the election on the basis of which it claimed that it could not urgently comply with the Council decision.

Going by the said decision, the Commission was expected to present a progress report on the implementation of the October 2021 decision on PAP in view of the urgency of the matter. It has failed to do so unapologetically, insisting on taking its time to implement it at her convenience.  

Article 12(5) of the PAP Protocol provides that the Bureau of the Parliament shall be responsible for the management and administration of the affairs and facilities of the Pan-African Parliament and its organs. To ensure compliance with this requirement, the Council should recall the Interim Bureau of the Parliament if the Commission insists that it is unable to conduct the bureau election in March which is a statutory meeting month. It is against the provisions of the PAP Protocol to continue to allow the Clerk to run the affairs of the Parliament as a sole administrator!


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