Outcome of the PAP – PRC Retreat and Issues for Executive Council Decision (Part 2) - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, March 3, 2023

Outcome of the PAP – PRC Retreat and Issues for Executive Council Decision (Part 2)

Opinion by Olu. Ibekwe

Editor’s note: This is the concluding part of https://www.africanparliamentarynews.com/2023/02/outcome-of-pap-prc-retreat-and-issues.html

Allowances of members of the Parliament

Lack of payment of sitting and other allowances inherent in the performance of parliamentary functions is on its face, inconsistent with Article 10 of the PAP Protocol which states that the “Pan-African Parliamentarians shall be paid an allowance to meet expenses in the discharge of their duties”.

The PAP Protocol for good reasons, provided that PAP members should be paid allowances to meet the expenses in the discharge of their duties. Member states should not have to shoulder this responsibility because Article 6 of the Protocol makes it clear that Parliamentarians shall vote in their personal and independent capacity.

One cannot reasonably expect member states to take responsibility for the payment of MP allowances without those member states dictating how the MPs should vote on issues which would be a violation of Article 6 of the Protocol. Have we forgotten the saying that he who pays the piper, dictates the tunes?.

Under the PAP Protocol, members of PAP have double mandates consisting of the national Parliament of Member States and at the continental Parliament. Are we saying that the members of the Bureau and Chairpersons of Caucuses and Committees should be undertaking multiple responsibilities with no compensation for their commitment and efforts for Africa?

It should be noted that there have been instances where some AU member States were unable to allow their MPs to attend the full duration of the Sessions and Committee sittings because of financial constraints. This is bound to adversely affect the number of parliamentarians who attend sessions as well as performance of the Parliamentarians. The payment of sitting allowances and other entitlements needs to be institutionalized including payment of responsibility allowance for members of the Bureau as well as the bureauxes of the regional caucuses and statutory committees.

Another compelling reason is that since the MPs come to South Africa for PAP business, there should be uniformity in treatment in view of the fact that all countries are not financially equal. While some countries can afford to lodge their MPs in five star hotels, others may only be able afford cheap three star hotels.

There is also the requirement by the PAP Protocol that each country delegation must include members of the opposition parties and we all know how members of the opposition are treated in some member states. So, we must ensure that PAP members are similarly treated regardless of how rich or poor their country is or if they are members of the ruling or opposition party in the National Parliament.

PAP Secretariat and staffing

In order to be able to respond to contemporary challenges, PAP must be equipped with staffs both quantitatively and qualitatively that possess the competence and professional development required to ensure efficient service to the MPs. However, report from the PAP – PRC Retreat was shortage of qualified staff and that effort to conclude recruitment of staff for advertized positions is being frustrated.

It would be recalled that PAP had advertized for some of the vacant positions but bureaucrats at the AUC allegedly wanted to hijack the process by embarking on short-listing or prequalifying applicants and submitting to PAP, a list of short-listed applicants. PAP Bureau insisted on the release of the names all those who applied and the basis for not short-listing some applicants.

As stated earlier, Article 17(b) of the Constitutive Act made it clear that the composition, powers, functions and organization of the Pan-African Parliament shall be defined in the PAP Protocol. This means that founding fathers of the Union intended that PAP should have some level of autonomy in its operations as defined in the PAP Protocol.

Specifically, Article 12(5) of the PAP Protocol states that “the President and the Vice-Presidents shall be the Officers of the Pan-African Parliament. The officers, under the control and direction of the President and subject to such directives as may be issued by the Pan-African Parliament, shall be responsible for the management and administration of the affairs and facilities of the Pan-African Parliament and its organs. In the discharge of their duties, the Officers shall be assisted by the Clerk and the two Deputy Clerks”.

Going further, Article 12.6 of the PAP Protocol states that “The Pan-African Parliament shall appoint a Clerk, two Deputy Clerks and such other staff and functionaries as it may deem necessary for the proper discharge of its functions and may by regulations provide for their terms and conditions of office in accordance with the relevant OAU practice as appropriate”.

Obviously, there is no provision for the involvement of AUC bureaucrats in the recruitment of the staffs of the Parliament no matter how noble, their intentions unless invited by PAP. The mandatory provisions in the PAP Protocol which were ratified by member states of the African Union, are clear and unambiguous. The AUC lacks the power to alter those provisions without going through the process of amendment of the PAP Protocol in the manner provided for in the Protocol.

Conclusively, neither Article 17 of the Constitutive Act nor Articles 12.5 – 12.6 of PAP Protocol gave the AUC any power to supervise or superintend over PAP’s recruitment process. The AUC has no power to insist that PAP must without questions, accept its short listing of applicants. And by the way, nothing in my opinion stops PAP from reopening the application process and directly accepting the applications.

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