Pan African Parliament amends Rules of Procedure - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Pan African Parliament amends Rules of Procedure

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on Thursday broke the jinx by passing a motion adopting amendments to the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

The parliamentarians have been in Midrand, South Africa for the First Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament which began on Monday October 24, 2022.

Addressing the parliamentarians, the Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline, Hon. Thembekile Majola stated that the Rules of Procedure of the Pan African Parliament was first adopted on 21 September 2004 and subsequently amended seven years later on 10 October 2011.

He noted that for the past eleven (11) years, the Parliament has operated on the 2011 amended rules which in some instances is fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions with the Protocol that established the Parliament and Executive Council decisions as it relates to organs of the African Union.

Hon. Majola recalled a prior resolution of the Pan African Parliament Resolution No. PAP. 4/PLN/RES/08/MAY.17 of 18 May 2017, by which the Parliament resolved that the Rules of Procedure of PAP be amended in accordance with Rule 93 and more particularly then to incorporate the principle of rotation of the Presidency of the Parliament. That 2017 Resolution served as a reminder of the necessity to thoroughly update and review the Rules of Procedure in order to ensure that they are fully reflective of the evolution and the evolving needs of the Pan-African Parliament.

“Undeniably, there is also the imperative of the need to institutionalize relevant Plenary Resolutions of the Parliament and integrate the various decisions of the Executive Council and decisions of the African Union Policy Organs into our internal procedures and practices” said Hon. Majola.

He recalled the various Executive Council Decisions of  2017, 2018 and 2021 urging the Parliament to apply the African Union rules and values, including the principle of geographical rotation among the five regions of Africa in elections of Members of the Bureau. These decisions incorporated the principle of the Assembly Decision of February 2020 that directed the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to examine and align legal instruments and Rules of Procedure of AU Organs.

“Honourable Colleagues, Parliamentary institutions all across the globe periodically undergo a process of institutional readjustment of its internal structures, practices and ideologies where it seeks to identify gaps and weaknesses with the objective to implement institutional and structural reform, and transform existing legal frameworks, in order to ensure that they are responsive, and representative of their foundational visions and aspirations. This amendment process presents us with a unique and strategic opportunity to revitalize the fabric of our parliamentary institution and reposition it for effective parliamentary practices”.

He posited that adopting the revised rules was “necessary to actualize an effective and practical implementation of the mandate of the Pan African Parliament, ensure complementarity with existing protocol and conform Parliament’s practices to Executive Council and Assembly decisions while retaining sustainable flexibility to adjust to global exigencies, volatilities and prevailing political realities in our continent such as providing for the regulation of Virtual Sittings of Parliament and its various organs.

Hon. Majola stated that as part of facilitating the process for the amendment of Rules of Procedure, the five (5) Regional Caucuses were availed with a Report of the Gap Analysis and the Report of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline on identified gaps in the Rules of Procedure.

This followed a workshop of the Committee of Rules, Privileges and Discipline held from the 5th to the 06th of September 2022. After considering these reports and other potential areas of amendments, Regional Caucuses were on Monday 24, asked to examine the possible areas for amendment along side with the Rules Committee Report on identified gaps.

Having deliberated on areas for amendments, Regional Caucuses presented their reports in a Plenary held on 26 October 2022. As agreed in Plenary, a document on colour coding of all the agreements and disagreements by each of the five Regional Caucuses was prepared. The document tracked and consolidated interventions by Members through their Regional Caucuses.

“After a preliminary consideration of the synthesized report by the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline on 01 November 2022, a meeting was convened between the Bureau, the Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses and the Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to further harmonize the areas of divergence by the Regional Caucuses in their represented capacity for the regions. We were assisted in this process by a team of experts with affiliations in various capacities at national parliaments, supra-national-parliaments and other legislative institutions across the continent. A representative from the AU Office of the Legal Counsel was also present”.

“I wish to submit to you that in the course of these deliberations, our entire Rules of Procedure consisting of 94 provisions were considered by all relevant stakeholders including the Regional Caucuses. From the analysis, a consensus was reached between all the Regional Caucuses on eighty two (82) of the ninety four (94) Rules of Procedure. This translates to an agreement rate of 87%. There were minor differences on seven (7) Rules of Procedure. There were nine (9) material differences which translates to 9.5%. This prompted further meetings of the Regional Caucuses to be convened to try to reconcile the differences”.

“A meeting of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline was also convened to receive a report of the positions of various Regional Caucuses in respect of the various areas of disagreement. This was then followed by a meeting between the Bureau, the Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses and the Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to further harmonize the areas of divergence by the Regional Caucuses in their represented capacity for the regions”.

After these series of meetings, the Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses were asked to report back to their regional caucuses to inform them on the areas where consensus had been reached for their approval. “I am glad to report that reconsiderations of initial positions were made and there is now consensus by all the Regional Caucuses on the broad principles to amend the Rules in a spirit of collegiality” reported Hon. Majola.

The Rules Committee recognized that there are different constitutional parliamentary practices and arrangements in Member States in relation to dissolution arising out of electoral processes. “In some jurisdictions, Parliaments are dissolved three (3) months prior to elections and in other jurisdictions, dissolution do not occur. In some instances, Parliamentarians retain their competencies until another Parliamentarian elected in their place is sworn in. This creates conflicting circumstances with potential conflicting interpretation as to when a Parliamentarian ceases to be a Member of Parliament.  It is imperative for institutional stability and continuity for the Pan-African Parliament to define certain concepts that underlie status, tenure and mandate of Members which is currently missing in our Rules of Procedure. This will not only avoid disruptions in the status of Members, it will also give practical application to those provisions in the Protocol and the Rules of Procedure that relate to the Status of Members of Parliament”.

“The relevant provisions are encompassed in Article 12(8) of the Protocol and Rule 8(1) of the Rules of Procedure. To give practical effect to the principles reflected in this governing instrument and particularly to the Protocol as it relates to tenure and mandate of members, we provided definitions to key areas such as: “ceases to be a member” as provided in Rule 8 (1) (e) of the rules of procedure and Article 12 (8) (e) of the Protocol as well as the definition of the term “Vacancy” as contemplated in the provisions of Rule 8 (5) and other relevant areas of the rules of procedure”.

The adopted amendments include the procedures for the implementation of the principle of rotation for leadership positions across all organs of the Parliament with immediate effect with the rotation sequence attached as an appendix as well as guidelines for Virtual Sittings. The amended rules now has a definition of what constitutes a deliberative body”

Each of the Chairpersons of the Five Regional caucuses also took the floor to present the reports of their various caucuses and to put on record, the consensus decisions of their respective regional caucuses which received applause from the parliamentarians.

Thereafter, Hon. Majola formally moved a motion for the adoption of the proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure and was seconded by the Chairperson of the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, Hon. Mubarak Muntaka. In the absence of any opposition, the motion was unanimously adopted.

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