PAP Plenary Session to hold from 24th June to 5th July 2024 in Midrand, South Africa - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



memfys hospital Enugu

Monday, May 20, 2024

PAP Plenary Session to hold from 24th June to 5th July 2024 in Midrand, South Africa

The next Plenary session of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has been scheduled to hold from 24th June to 5th July 2024 at the precincts of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

This was contained in a letter with reference number PAP/BUR/05 dated 14 May 2024, addressed to the members of the PAP with the caption “Update On PAP Programmes And Activities Including The Plenary Session” and signed by the President, H.E. Chief Fortune Zephania Charumbira.

It would be recalled that the last plenary session of the Parliament was held in May 2023, less than a year after the 29 June 2022 election that brought in the current Bureau. The Bureau reported that budgetary constraints resulted in the inability of the Parliament to hold her August 2023 Committee sitting and October 2023 plenary session. As if the financial constraint was not enough, PAP was plunged into leadership crisis in August 2023 when the Parliament’s President Chief Fortune Charumbira went for national parliamentary election in Zimbabwe. The amendments to the rules of procedure of the Parliament, adopted on 04 November 2022 which was intended to ensure leadership stability, was in a strange twist,  suspended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the basis of a complaint signed by about eight (8) out of the more than 240 members of the Parliament! The leadership crisis was however resolved during the Forty-fourth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2024 which culminated in the 25 March 2024 election overwhelmingly won by the President Chief Fortune Charumbira thus affirming his mandate.

In the said letter to the members of PAP, Hon. Chief Charumbira wrote: “On behalf of the Bureau of the Pan African Parliament and, indeed, on my own behalf, allow me to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to you, Hon. Members, for the resounding vote of confidence you expressed in me and the entire Bureau during the March 25th elective session. It has been six weeks since the full Bureau assumed office and we have been using this time to settle in, come to terms with the latest developments in the institution, reconnect with the PAP’s programmes, activities, budgetary issues and the resources available for programmes and activities as well as to find each other. We have also been working towards improving the image of PAP by presenting the truth and the correct image of PAP as an institution. I will be the first to admit that there are still challenges within the Bureau but we are committed to resolving them and moving together in unison in steering the institution to achieve its mandate”.

Article 14 (2) of the PAP Protocol provides that: “The Pan-African Parliament shall meet in ordinary session at least twice a year, within a period to be determined in the Rules of Procedure. Each ordinary session may last up to one month.”

H. E. Chief Fortune Charumbira acknowledged that, in line with Article 14(2) of the PAP Protocol, “there is a legitimate expectation amongst Members that the PAP will meet in plenary at least twice a year. Suffice to say, this has traditionally been in May and October/November. As a Bureau, we are very optimistic that the statutory plenary session will be convened but to be realistic, it will not be in May as we are facing the same crippling budgetary constraints that we faced in 2023 and are more than likely to experience again in 2025, if nothing changes.”

“As Members are aware, the PAP has suffered from an unrestrained reduction in its overall budget from a high of US$22 million in 2017 to the current US$10,5 million in 2024. This consistent reduction in the budget, which was akin to an avalanche over the past four years, has drastically affected the budget for programmes to the extent that it is now almost impossible to convene even statutory meetings which ought to be non-discretionary as they are mandated by the Protocol.”

“As was the case in 2023, the PAP has been allocated US$900 000 for the two plenary sessions per year translating to US$450 000 per session. Since the establishment of the PAP, the cost of convening one Plenary Session has remained fixed at US$1 300 000 translating to a total of US$2 600 000 for the two plenary sessions per year. Therefore, the US$900 000 that has been provided for the two Plenary Sessions for 2024 is not enough to hold one plenary session. Even if the Bureau implements cost-cutting measures as has been suggested in some quarters, the budget remains woefully inadequate as some fixed costs cannot be varied. For example, the cost of interpreters and translators alone for one session is upwards of US$500 000. This is a non-negotiable expense given that the PAP has to provide for interpretation and translation in all the languages officially recognized by the African Union. The Budget allocated for the session is, therefore, not even enough to cover the costs of translation and interpretation alone.”

“Additionally, the engagement of support staff is unavoidable in some critical areas during sessions. The human resources shortages at the PAP are well documented with the Protocol Unit, for example, being manned by only two full-time employees while the Media Unit has only one person. The Human Resources Department currently has only two full-time employees in post while the Transport Unit has only two drivers and yet these are critical departments during sessions which need to have adequate personnel. The Protocol Unit provides round the clock Protocol services to Members and invited guests at the airport and at hotels during sessions and this cannot be done by two people. The Transport Unit provides ground transportation to Members to and from the airport and from their respective hotels to the PAP during sessions. It is impracticable to expect this to be done by the two drivers in post. We need Ushers in the chambers and in the precincts during sessions and we have only one person serving as Serjeant-at-arms. Even the Bureau, which does not have full time staff serving them, requires administrative assistants during sessions. These costs are, therefore, unavoidable making the budget of US$450 000 a drop in the ocean.”

“Similarly, the cost of convening one Committee Sitting has remained fixed at US$800,000. Therefore, for the two Committee Sessions per year, the PAP requires US$1 600,000. However, only US$530 000 has been provided for the two Committee Sittings for 2024 which translates to US$265 000 per session. This amount is clearly not even enough to convene one Committee Sitting.”

PAP President Chief Fortune Charumbira noted that in view of this untenable situation, the Bureau has been making frantic efforts to engage the AUC to push for an increased budget for statutory activities, among other financial obligations. “To date, we have convened meetings with the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, the Director of Finance, the F15 and the Director General, among others. We have impressed upon them that PAP cannot fail to convene statutory meetings as mandated by the PAP Protocol. This would be unprecedented in the 20-year history of PAP.”

“The responsible AU Organs will be meeting during this month to deliberate on the AU Budget and our request for additional resources is on the agenda of these meetings. The issue has been receiving favourable consideration by the respective authorities and I am very optimistic that the AU will provide additional resources to enable us to convene our statutory meetings. The delay in convening the session, therefore, is a practical decision premised primarily on the inadequacy of resources.”

“As Members are aware, approval processes within the Union take a bit of time. In that regard, the Bureau is of the considered opinion that the only reasonable time frame within which to access additional resources from the AU would be to move the Plenary session towards the end of June. The intervening period will allow for the approval processes as well as the transfer of the required resources. Accordingly, the Bureau at its Extraordinary Meeting convened on 8th May, 2024, unanimously resolved that the Plenary session be convened from 24th June to 5th July, 2024.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of African Parliamentary News