Stopping the shenanigans at the Pan-African Parliament - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Stopping the shenanigans at the Pan-African Parliament

Opinion by Olu. Ibekwe

Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general, strategist, philosopher, and writer who lived during the Eastern Zhou period once said that “An evil man will burn his own nation to the ground to rule over the ashes”. This looks like what is currently going on at the Pan-African Parliament.

In my article Charumbira remains the Substantive President of the Pan-African Parliament published by the African Parliamentary News (, I observed that: “One of the first things that usually happen during illegal take-over of power is the suspension of the constitution and other enabling legislations and the dissolution of governing structures in the institution. And to justify such illegal change of power and build resentment against those overthrown, they accuse them of corruption and embezzlement of funds. Then they begin to perfect plans to legitimize their stay in power.”

The failed coup plotters at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in yet another futile attempt to smear the image of the President of PAP, H. E. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, on 2nd October 2023, wrote a letter to the PAP Office of Internal Auditor to find out why PAP could not hold Committee Sittings in August 2023 and is unable to hold the Session in October 2023!. The said letter was signed by the Chairperson of the Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA), Hon. Miles Sampa and the Committee’s Rapporteur, Hon. Patrick Oshabe.

If one may ask, when has it become the responsibility or under the schedule of the Office of Internal Audit to find out why PAP meetings could not hold? Is CAPA responsible for the administration of the Parliament or are they on a hatchet mission?

For the avoidance of doubt, the functions of CAPA are clearly spelt out in Rule 26.10 of the Rules of Procedure of PAP and does not include finding out why PAP cannot meet. It is also not the responsibility of the Office of Internal Auditor to do so.

Rather, it is the responsibility of the Bureau of the Parliament which as per Article 12.5 of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing The African Economic Community Relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Protocol), consists of the elected President and the four elected Vice Presidents to do so. The Second Vice President, Hon. Dr. Ashebir Gayo” who is orchestrating this charade, is a member of the Bureau and cannot claim ignorance of why the sittings of the Parliament for the stated period could not hold. If he claims not to know, then it raises a question as to his competence to continue to serve as a member of the Bureau. So why this waste of public resources on a hatchet job?

This is a clear example of embarking on a fishing expedition or a wild goose chase at the expense of the Pan-African Parliament because Hon. Dr. Gayo, Hon. Sampa and Hon. Oshabe were all in attendance during the Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament in May 2023 when the Chairperson of the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, Hon. Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka presented the report of his Committee to the plenary session. Here is a verbatim recording of his report:

I thank you, Mr President. I am sorry, what I saw as the Order of Business today was something a bit different. It was talking about country delegations first. So, I thought I had some few minutes.

Colleagues, I have to present the Report of the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs on the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Proposed Budget for the Financial Year 2024.

Colleagues, as you may recall, in March, the Committee did present its report to you for approval, in which report, we had a total Budget of US$25.1 million, which you did approve for us to onwardly submit to the African Union Commission (AUC) for approval. Unfortunately, in April, we got the African Union (AU) giving us a budget ceiling that we needed to collapse our US$25.5 million into a budget of US$11. 9 million. In fact, we went back to them.

At that point in time, I encouraged the President of PAP to be more or less rebellious by us refusing to upload on the Amat so that we leave a crisis for the Executive Council to deal with. Why did I advise the President to do that? I have looked at the PAP Budget since inception and it is very clear and it is taking doubt from our minds that there is deliberateness to kill PAP. When we started, PAP was getting an average of 9 per cent of the total Budget of the African Union to run it. This continued for almost eight years and suddenly, it started dwindling and the US$9.11 million that they asked us to upload on-Amat, was less than 2 per cent of the AU Budget. Sadly–I have to take you a little back, before the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the total budget the AU gave the PAP was US$16.4 million. Then we had COVID-19, and in 2021 we went through all those challenges and our Budget was slashed to US$11.8 million.

In 2022, after getting a new Bureau, just after this Bureau coming in, our Budget was still at US$11.9. We were able to meet the Executive Council in Lusaka and made a very strong case that PAP was back, and on its feet, and it needed to be encouraged to move on. The Heads of States instructed the AU to do three things. Firstly, they were to provide us with the resources to be able to run as the Pan-African Parliament.

Secondly, we were to have a retreat with all our Ambassadors - the Permanent Representative Council (PRC).

Thirdly, we were to meet the Sub-Committee of the PRC - the F15 - to enable them to appreciate and understand our challenges.

My dear Colleagues, after that meeting, all of a sudden, the story started changing. Yes, they gave us some money, but not as the Executive Council, the Heads of State had instructed. We were only given US$664,000, instead of a request of almost about US$3 million. We were given just less than US$1 million. We were also allowed to virement. So, we were able to virement because our organogram allows us to have about 74 staff, but we were short by 22 staff, including the Clerk and other positions. So, we were able to move money from that and we got US$252,000. When you add the US$664,000 and the US$252,000 to the approved Budget of US$11.9, it took us to about US$12.6 million. 

Colleagues, we managed to do something that for a very long period, the PAP Bureau had not been able to do. With the half year of performance. from June to December, we were able to execute at 87 per cent. We used 87 per cent of the money we were given, which was one of the highest execution rates in recent time operation of the Bureau, clearly telling the AU that we were ready to fly. We were ready to work. To our utmost shock, after the intervention of the Heads of State and everything, they gave us US$12.6 million, but immediately moved to further slash our Budget down in 2023, back to US$11.9 million.

Colleagues, as we speak, in 2023 - the Session that we have now - in 2022, the amount of money we spent half year, was US$1.7 million yet they gave us US$900,000 to operate for the whole year. As we speak, we have exhausted all the US$900,000 because we are supposed to have two Sessions in a year, which is the May Session and the October Session. However, with just the May Session, we have almost exhausted all the US$900,000. It is understandably so because if we look at 2022, with half-year performance, we were able to use our US$1.7 million.

With regard to our committee meetings, you are aware that we have two Committee Sittings, which is in March and August, but they gave us only half a million - that is US$500,000 - to operate for the whole of 2023. In March 2023, we spent US$791,000 on the Committee Meeting that we had. Meaning that we up on budget by US$291,000. This means that if something drastic is not done, we will not be able to have the August meeting and we will not be able to have the October Session. This is a very serious matter, and I am just laying it bare to Parliament for you to understand clearly where we are.

Colleagues, let me come back the 2024 Budget. Now, when they asked us to upload on Amert and we refused, the PAP sent a delegation led by myself, to Addis Abba. We met the Director General. I was together with my Rapporteur and the technical team from PAP. They persuaded us that they were technocrats. The real actors were the F15 - that is our Ambassadors, the PRC, the Sub-Committee of Finance. They pleaded with us to upload on the Amert, and that they were going to help facilitate a meeting between us and the F15 to enable us put our case, and they were very optimistic that our case would be heard. On that basis, I came back and advised the President that let us upload onto the Amert and see what we can do when meet the F15. So, we did.

Graciously, when it was time to meet the F15, the President of the Pan-African Parliament, Chief himself, was in attendance with the two Vice-Presidents, Dr Gayo, Hon. Ango, my team and I, together with the technical teams in PAP. It was very appalling; you would see clearly that it is one or two things: either it is deliberate to kill this institution or people just do not understand what we do. When you get an ambassador say, because the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is doing something, PAP is also going to that, and we should rationalise and team up together with them to work. I asked them whether in their individual countries, they have a Ministry of Finance. He said, yes. I asked: in your Parliament, do you have a Committee on Finance? Would you say that that is double? Because one is to do the act and the other is supposed to see whether truly that act has been done.

Do you have a Ministry of Education in your country, and do you also have a Committee on Education in Parliament because one is supposed to play oversight on the other. To cut the long story short, the story was that we did not have the Malabo Protocol ratified and, therefore, our role was still advisory. Therefore, we should restrict ourselves to the advisory role.

I then said, this even confirms that you do not understand how Parliaments work. Whether our action is going to end up with an advice or with a mandatory instruction, the processes are the same because Parliament works through its committees.

Today, with the Budget that has been given that is before all of you, I just want to show to all of us the major challenge that confronts us. You will remember, like I earlier mentioned, we came here, you gave us an approval of US$25,195,592.Now, with what they have done, it is reducing almost every line drastically.

I will just give some few examples. When we drafted the Budget that you approved in March, the Bureau was supposed to have US$2 million to operate for the whole year. Now with the new ceiling, it will have only US$500,000.

The Women’s Caucus was supposed to have US$200,000, but they are only going to have US$25,000. The Youth Caucus was supposed to have US$178,632, now they will have US$25,000. The regional caucus such as the Central African Republic, was supposed to have about US$300,000 to operate, but they are going to have only US$40,000 to operate. I am just mentioning a few.

Colleagues, you have seen clearly what is happening now. If we do not have a strategy as an institution on our financial survival, I can rest assure all of us that this institution is on an emergency bed, on its way to death. Unless each and every one of us rises up to this occasion and try to do the very best that we can.

Hon. Colleagues, these are the observations of our committee. This report is for you to take note of the predicament PAP finds itself in. From our deliberations with the PRC and the F15 on the proposed budget, it is evident that the F15, who have the utmost say on the allocation of Union funds, do not understand how Parliament operates. It is with this little knowledge that they assume we are duplicating activities of the Union and in effect, would rather fund other organs than the PAP. They are of the opinion that without full legislative powers, the activities PAP is undertaking are beyond its capacity.

The reality is that PAP is not going to be granted its desired budget. This budget is based on funding from Member States and one Partner–the European Union. We will, therefore, have to embark on an aggressive mobilisation strategy to fund our activities under the programme budget.

The Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs reiterates its call to this House on the need for it to be involved in the PAP and the AU budgetary process from its inception to approval.

I thank the Bureau for the support it has provided to the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs in developing the PAP Budget. The Committee is of the strong opinion that this issue needs to be further escalated to the Executive Council and the Heads of State and Government.

Colleagues, to add, I believe that the time has come for us to take the issue of our Trust very seriously. The Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs has advised the Bureau to, as a matter of urgency, establish the Trust to enable us to embark on a massive mobilisation drive within the continent so that we able to raise resources to justify why we need to continue operating.

Secondly, I want to add that each and every one of us should be interested in who their Ambassador is in Addis Ababa. I can bet you that if each and every one of us is in touch with his or her Ambassador in Addis Ababa and make them appreciate how Parliament operates and what PAP is all about, I am optimistic it will definitely make an impact.

Lastly, we must let our Ambassadors appreciate that we are not rivals to them. For instance, if the Malabo Protocol is approved, PAP is supposed to be in charge of the Budget of the AU. We are supposed to play oversight on all the organs, which the PRC is currently doing. They should not see us as rivals to be frustrating the running of PAP by cutting our Budget unnecessarily.

I also want to add that as PAP, we must also be up willing. With this kind of situation, we should also be very serious how we utilise our resources. I am happy this morning, someone was trying to draw the attention of the Bureau, in particular, the President, to the duration that we are meeting. You know that our Session is supposed to be two weeks. Each time it goes beyond the two weeks, it has financial implications. The number of support staff that we bring, if we bring so many interpreters, we have to pay them, but if our activities are not properly programmed, they still have to be paid the days that they sit. That is a financial burden on PAP. Let us look inwardly to tighten all the loose ends within our activities here at PAP, as we push forcefully to ensure that the AU funds us adequately.

Lastly, before I resume my seat, I am also urging the Bureau to put up a very strong delegation with a very strong message to our Heads of State. I strongly believe that so long as PAP is going to be left at the mercy of the PRC and the budget processes at the AU through the F15, we may never be able to achieve our objective.

We need to be able to make a strong case that in the case of PAP, we operate Committees and a number of things. We do things differently from how other organs operate. We cannot not be cut intoanAmert format that does not even allow you to state which committees you have, a format which does not even allow you to state each committee and its activities and why you have justification for its budget. It cannot work with that kind of format. Forcing all of us to just have a one-size-fit-all will be difficult for our Parliament to operate.

Colleagues, this is the sad report I have for you and only hope that all of us will put our hand behind the wheel to ensure that we are able to get at least a Supplementary Budget to run the year to the end and be able to get the 2024 Budget essentially improved. With this shortfall of 40 million, I doubt whether we will be able to operate next year.

I thank you very much for the opportunity. (Applause).

Is it not obvious from the above record of proceedings that members of the Pan-African Parliament were informed of the possibility of not holding the said meetings back in May 2023?. And if one may ask, why is Hon. Dr. Gayo and his cabal wasting PAP’s resources on an issue for which the Parliament had been duly appraised of?

It has became evident based on the recent events that the interest of Hon. Dr. Gayo and his cabal is on how to hijack power at PAP. Instead of concentrating on why their respective countries designated them to PAP, they were scheming on how to frustrate the swearing in of the Mauritania delegation to the Parliament and consequently prevent the First Vice President, Hon. Professor Messouda Mohamed Laghdaf from resuming her office. With her out of the way, they can capture PAP Presidency. Unfortunately, they failed woefully and had to resort to the forceful and hostile takeover of PAP.

If Hon. Dr. Gayo was indeed genuinely concerned about why PAP could not meet for the stated period, what effort did he make to approach the AU officials to secure the funds necessary to convene the October session? He was rather playing politics with it and seeking to ensure that PAP does not hold a plenary session so that he will continue his siege on the precincts of PAP. He was planning for a Virtual Session while at the same time, denying the amendments that made provision for such sittings.

As stated earlier, the Bureau of the Parliament consists of the duly elected President and four Vice Presidents. The Vice Presidents are assigned responsibilities. A member of the Bureau usually heads the Appointments, Promotions and Recruitment Board (APROB) which handles all matters relating to recruitment, appointment, promotion, review, and reemployment and staff development, unsatisfactory performance and make appropriate recommendations to the PAP President. Hon. Dr. Gayo has illegally reconstituted APROB and placed Hon. Sampa who is not even an elected member of the Bureau as the Chairperson of APROB in addition to being Chairperson of CAPA. Who will now audit APROB in case of allegation of wrong-doing? In all these actions by Hon. Gayo, the Third Vice President, Hon. (Mrs.) Lucia Dos Passos has been sidelined, has not been consulted on any issue and worst still, has been blocked from PAP since 23 August 2023 when Dr. Gayo forcefully seized power at PAP.

If one may ask, in what capacity has Hon. Sampa been travelling to countries seeking support for Hon. Gayo’s illegal hostile take-over of PAP and who has been funding those trips? Are the travels part of the mandate of CAPA? Or is he using it to canvass for his candidacy for President of PAP? Is this not a violation of the code of conduct for PAP members for him to use them to advance his selfish ambition to lead PAP? Is it not obvious that PAP is gradually being captured for selfish reasons?

Borrowing from the words of Sun Tzu, it is obvious that Dr. Gayo is determined to destroy PAP and pull it to the ground to rule over the ashes. But he will not be allowed to do so.


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