PAP leadership crisis worsens - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, November 9, 2023

PAP leadership crisis worsens

The leadership crisis rocking the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) appear to have taken a new turn as the memo from the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H. E. Moussa Faki Mahamat invalidating all the decisions purportedly taken on behalf of the Bureau by the Second Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Ashebir Gayo has reportedly been ignored.

The said AUC memo dated 18 October 2023 with reference CCP/O/706/10.23 and addressed to the Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo stated that the decision was taken to safeguard the African Union (AU) from potential legal liability.

It would be recalled that the memo from the AUC Chairperson was based on a legal opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which advised that the Bureau of the Pan-African Parliament which is supposed to consist of five (5) members has been reduced to two (2) members, namely the Second and Third Vice Presidents.

It was on that basis that the OLC stated the Bureau does not have a quorum in its current composition to make administrative, financial and management decisions on the affairs and facilities of PAP and its Organs until the Bureau has the appropriate quorum.

“As such, the decision of the Chairperson of the Commission as capitulated in the memoranda of 05 October 2023 should be understood that pending the finalization of the mission of the Task Force and the resulting transitional measures to be proposed, the Bureau shall not take any administrative, financial and management decisions”.

“Any such decisions taken by the Bureau should be considered invalid and cannot be implemented to safeguard the Union from potential legal liability” concluded the OLC memo.

Instead of complying with the AUC Chairperson’s memo, Hon. Ashebir Gayo on 24 October 2023, dared the AUC Chairperson by issuing a letter purporting to suspend the Clerk of the Parliament, Ms. Khumalo. The suspension according to Hon. Dr. Gayo “became necessary in order to allow for free and objective review of the recruitment process that was undertaken to recruit the Clerk”.

Ms. Khumalo, a South African citizen and first female Clerk of PAP, has since then, been locked out of the PAP precincts and prevented from performing her duties.

The Deputy Clerk (LBC) was asked to take over as Acting Clerk. Pundits are therefore wondering how the Deputy Clerk, as a civil servant, will also aid and abet the disobedience of the directives of the AUC Chairperson.

According to Article 12.6 of the PAP Protocol, the Clerk is appointed by the Parliament. Rule 20(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament went on to state that the Clerk is appointed by the Parliament on the recommendation of the Bureau. This implies that the Clerk once appointed by the Parliament, can only be relieved of her appointment by the Parliament on the recommendation of the Bureau. But as noted in the AUC Chairperson’s letter of 18 October 2023, the Bureau does not have a quorum in its current composition to make administrative, financial and management decisions on the affairs and facilities of PAP.

The AUC Chairperson is called upon to urgently facilitate the funding that will enable the convening of a plenary session so that the parliamentarians themselves will democratically sort out these issues. A situation where unilateral decisions are taken to set aside the decisions of the plenary is inconsistent with both the PAP Protocol and the vision of the founders of the African Union in establishing the Pan-African Parliament.  

Our Correspondent who monitored the recruitment process, reports that the recruitment of the Clerk followed a coordinated process through the African Union Careers Portal where applicants’ information concerning their qualifications and experience were assessed in a centralized merit-based system conducted by the AU. The information on the candidates were only viewed by the AU Human Resources Team who conducted a pre-screening and short listing exercise with consideration to geographical and gender representation within the AU governance architecture.

The Bureau was initially told that twenty-two (22) candidates were short listed for the interviews but the AUC gave them only four (4) short listed candidates and said the rest had been disqualified by the quota system.

Thereafter, PAP APROB Committee chaired by the Third Vice President, Hon. Lucia Maria Mendes Goncalves Dos Passos duly screened the four (4) short listed candidates by the AUC and recommended them for interviews.

The interviews were conducted by the Bureau and Regional Chairpersons to ensure that all regions were represented. The Second Vice President, Hon. Dr. Gayo reportedly refused to take part in the interviews in protest against the AUC’s involvement in the short listing exercise.

The interview questions were said to have been developed by Ernest and Young and at the end of the interview, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo came first. The process was reported to be procedural and impartial. The Rules require that the Bureau presents the recommendations to the plenary which was done and the plenary unanimously endorsed the appointment of Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo as the first female Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament.

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