Court dismisses suit seeking to stop PAP Bureau election (see order) - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Court dismisses suit seeking to stop PAP Bureau election (see order)

A South African High Court in Gauteng on Thursday, dismissed the suit filed by a member of Botswana delegation to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Christian Greeff against the Clerk of the PAP, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo and the Chairperson of the Southern Region Caucus, Hon. Pemmy Majodina. The suit sought to interdict the respondents from proceeding with the Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament scheduled to take place from the 20th to the 27th of March, 2024.

Hon. Greeff also sought an order of the Court to direct the Southern Region Caucus of the PAP to hold meeting for the purpose of nominating presidential candidate before new members of the Parliament are sworn in.

This was disclosed on Thursday by the Acting President of PAP, Hon. Lucia Dos Passos during a press conference on the Extraordinary Session of the Pan-African Parliament.

Hon. Lucia Passos disclosed that when the case came up for hearing, the Clerk of the Parliament, Ms. Lindiwe Khumalo through her lawyers raised preliminary objection to the suit based on the lack of jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Her lawyers argued that both the PAP Protocol ratified by South Africa and South Africa’s Home Country Agreement with the African Union (AU) through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), made it explicitly clear that Pan-African Parliamentarians enjoy parliamentary immunity in South Africa and that a member of the Pan-African Parliament shall not be liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages for what is said or done by him or her within or outside the Pan-African Parliament in his or her capacity as a member of Parliament in the discharge of his or her duties.

The Acting President also disclosed that the Chairperson of the Southern Region Caucus, Hon. Pemmy Majodina was not in court having not been served with the court processes.

Pundits believe that the dismissal of the suit has dealt a blow to the presidential aspiration Zambian parliamentarian, Hon. Miles Sampa who is believed to be the intended beneficiary of the reliefs sought in the legal action. He and his supporters had banked on him being the only candidate for nomination.

Dismissal of the suit clears the way for the opening ceremonies expected to take place tomorrow Friday 22 March. New and re-designated members will be sworn in to participate in the election processes.

Under the draft program for the session, regional caucuses will meet after the opening ceremonies for the purpose of nomination of candidates for President, First and Fourth Vice Presidents of the Parliament. A five member ad hoc committee made up of elected representative from each regional caucus in terms of Rule 16(3) will also be constituted to organize the election.

Parliamentarians who spoke to our correspondent after the court judgment, expressed happiness that the matter was dismissed as it paves way for the election, expected to restore normalcy to the PAP.

Members of staff of the parliament were jubilant when they heard the news of the dismissal of the case. One of them remarked that the thought of going through what they were put through between August 2023 and February 2024 when Hon. Ashebir Gay and Hon. Miles Sampa held sway at PAP was terrifying.  The work environment at PAP back then was very toxic. “We went to work each day not knowing what to expect. They command you to do things and when you try to advise them of the provisions of the African Union (AU) staff rules, they threaten you with sack” said one of them. “May we never see the day when PAP will be hijacked to advance selfish personal agenda without regard to the image and integrity of the institution” said another staff.

It would be recalled that Hon. Greeff was one of the ten (10) members of the Southern Region Caucus of the Parliament who forwarded a petition to the Chairperson of the Region, Hon. Pemmy Majodina demanding that the region must hold meeting to nominate candidate for president before new members are sworn in.

When that failed, he proceeded to initiate the legal action which has now been dismissed.

The coast is now clear for the incumbent President from the Southern Region, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira who enjoys tremendous goodwill and support from the parliamentarians, to clinch the nomination and complete his three-year tenure which started with his election on 29 June 2022. He had only served for a year and two months before he proceeded for election.

Although the Northern Region has resolved to allow the incumbent First Vice President, Hon. Prof Messouda (Mrs.) to complete her three year tenure so that the position would thereafter rotate to another country in the spirit of intra-regional rotation, she will also have to go through election.

The Central Region which is also expected to nominate two candidates for position of Fourth Vice President did not join in the demand to hold meeting to nominate candidates before new members are sworn in. Strangely, some parliamentarians from the Region encouraged supporters of Hon. Sampa in the Southern Region to keep pressing that nomination of candidate for election should take place before swearing in of new members. But they did not push for the same position in the Central Region.

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