PAP Election: Four petitions against Charumbira’s candidacy dismissed - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, March 24, 2024

PAP Election: Four petitions against Charumbira’s candidacy dismissed

Four last minute petitions aimed disqualifying the candidate of the Southern Region Caucus of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira were today dismissed by the five (5) member Ad Hoc Committee constituted to organize and preside over the election of the President, scheduled to take place tomorrow Monday.

It would be recalled that elections for the nomination of candidates for the positions of President, First and Fourth Vice Presidents were conducted by the Southern, Northern and Central Region Caucuses on Friday 22 March 2024. Two candidates, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira (Zimbabwe) and Hon. Miles Sampa (Zambia), presented themselves for the election which was keenly contested. After the votes were counted, Chief Charumbira was returned as the winner of the election, with 23 votes while Hon, Sampa received 22 votes.  A total of forty five (45) members of the Southern Caucus participated in the election.

The two candidates accepted the outcome of the election with Hon. Miles Sampa hugging and congratulating the winner Hon. Chief Charumbira as shown by photographs taken after the election.

But in a strange twist, ten (10) out of the forty-five parliamentarians who participated in the election to nominate a candidate, signed a petition stating that the “election process should have provided all the eligibility conditions of the candidates”. They claimed that Chief Charumbira should not have been allowed to contest the election because he is various investigations. This petition was dismissed by the Ad Hoc Committee on the ground that the allegations were criminal in nature and required proof beyond reasonable doubt and that no evidence of adjudication of the issues by a court or even the PAP plenary were submitted in support of the petition. This is in recognition of the legal principle that an accused person is presumed innocent until he or she is found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.  

The second petition requested for a re-evaluation of the nomination process of the PAP Presidency and inclusion of Hon. Miles Sampa as a candidate for the election slated for tomorrow Monday. They want the two contestants for the president to be allowed to contest the election so that the plenary can choose between the two candidates. This petition was dismissed because Rule 84 the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament vests the authority to nominate candidates for election as president and vice president on the regional caucuses which had exercised that authority by submitting the names of candidates for the election. The Rules do not allow parliamentarians to individually submit their nomination or for independent candidacy. Besides, the Southern Caucus did consider the issue of submitting the names of more than one candidate for president but resolved to submit the name of only one candidate. It was on that basis that election was held to choose between the two candidates. Otherwise, the election would not have been held and the names of the two candidates would have been submitted. As the saying goes, one cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time or try to change the goal post in the middle of the game.

The third petition by Hon. Chihana raised the same allegations contained in the first petition which was also signed by Hon. Chihana. It was noted that he had previously raised the same issues and that the African Union policy organs had decided that there was no evidence that the allegations had been brought up during any plenary session. The Ad Hoc Committee therefore deemed it an abuse of process and dismissed it.

Pundits have noted that the three year tenure of the current Bureau that was elected on 29 June 2022 would end on June 2025 and wondered why all the acrimony for the post of president that would end next June 2025. Chief Charumbira having been elected on 29 June 2022 should ordinarily have been allowed to complete his three year tenure without acrimony. Unfortunately, it has been turned into a “do or die” by a powerful, by a well oiled cabal that is bent on hijacking the leadership of the PAP and has refused to take no for an answer.

It would be recalled that PAP adopted amendments to the Rules of Procedure that would have made the leadership crisis experienced by the Parliament, a thing of the past. Not satisfied with the amendments, they petitioned the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) and attached a doctored version of the Rules to the petition. On the basis of the doctored document, the Rules were suspended. A Task Force was constituted by the AUC Chairperson which visited PAP and submitted its report and findings which were unfavourable to the cabal. They rejected and petitioned against the report of the AUC Task Force.

After presentation of the report to the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the AU, the cabal petitioned against the PRC report. After the report was considered and decided by the Executive Council, they turned around to petition against the Executive Council. They even tried to frustrate the implementation of the Executive Council by trying to prevent Hon. Lucia Passos from taking over as Acting President. They have used every trick in the book to frustrate the implementation of the Executive Council decision because it did not go their way.

As one of the parliamentarians who spoke to our correspondent put it, “we are dealing with men who believe that they should never lose. If they lose, the system is wrong. Such an attitude is undemocratic and wrong”.

This election is about the institutional survival of PAP, said another parliamentarian. “They want to turn PAP into an institution controlled by money. Otherwise, why are they spending all these money for a term of office that will terminate in June 2025?” remarked another parliamentarian who was sworn in on Friday. “My National Parliament designated me to PAP and took care of all my expenses to be here and attend sessions but some people are offering money for me to stay away from the election.”.

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