PAP is back to full operational functionality - Charumbira - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, June 20, 2024

PAP is back to full operational functionality - Charumbira

The President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), H.E. Chief Fortune Charumbira has informed African Ambassadors who are accredited to the Republic of South Africa that PAP is back to full functionality after the leadership crisis that engulfed the Parliament from August 2023,

H.E Chief Charumbira gave the assurance on Thursday during a meeting with the Ambassadors to brief them on the program for the Third Ordinary Session of the Parliament which begins on Monday 24 June at the precincts of the Parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg.

 He welcomed the African Ambassadors to what he described as the first meeting after the 25 March, 2024, election session where the President and First Vice President were re-elected. With the full Bureau in place, this signaled that PAP is back to full business.

Chief Charumbira reaffirmed the importance of the Ambassadors to the PAP “as the eyes and ears of Member States on the ground and seized the opportunity to clarify some issues which had dragged the name of the Parliament into disrepute.

In introducing the members of the Bureau of the Parliament, Chief Charumbra pointed out that the only change has been the replacement of the Fourth Vice President, Hon. Francois Ango Ndoutoume of Gabon by Hon. Djidda Mamar Mahamat of Chad following the military coup that resulted in the suspension of Gabon from the African Union (AU)..

He maintained that that the return of the 2022 elected members of the Bureau, with the exception of Hon. Djidda, attests to the confidence that the PAP Parliamentarians have in the leadership of the Bureau and its ability to steer the PAP to effectively fulfill its mandate of “ensuring the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.”

The President acknowledged that the persistent conflicts within PAP since its establishment have damaged the image of the institution in the eyes of an already skeptical citizenry stressing that PAP has a lot of work to do to repair this tainted image.

“PAP as an institution suffers from collateral damage every time there is a conflict within and among its membership. For example, the false and malicious allegations of misappropriation of funds and recruitment of a ridiculously large number of support staff leveled against me, gave the impression that PAP is a decrepit, lawless institution with ineffective administrative systems which can be easily be manipulated by one person”.

He observed that these malicious allegations, which were flaunted as fact in the public domain, backed by a shameless contrived audit were targeted at ruining the reputation of the President and diminishing his support among the PAP MPs and the public with the ultimate objective of unseating him. Unfortunately, by extension, they also ruined the public’s perception of the institution to the extent that one Foreign Minister bluntly said that PAP is perceived as “an institution of hooligans.”

Chief Charumbira assured the Ambassadors that all the allegations of financial irregularities against him were frivolous adding that he welcomes the AU Board of External Auditors to conduct a forensic audit on the accounts of the Parliament as directed by the Executive Council.

He regretted that in driving this false narrative PAP MPs scored an own goal as the relevant AU Organs often ride on these conflicts and allegations to deny PAP the resources that it needs. Logically, who among us would like to sink their money into an institution in which US$3 million can be stolen by one person?”

He urged the Ambassadors as representatives of Member States of the Union, to assist PAP in drawing the attention of the relevant organs of the AU to PAP’s funding challenges facing PAP. “In line with Article 14(2) of the PAP Protocol as read with Rule 28 of the PAP Rules of Procedure, the PAP convenes two statutory Committee Meetings in March and August and two Plenary Sessions per year in May and October/ November.”

“Since the establishment of the PAP, the cost of convening one Committee Sitting has remained fixed at US$800000. 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. This amount is not even enough to convene one Committee Sitting.”

“Similarly, 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. Again, only US$900, 000 has been provided for the two Plenary Sessions for 2024. This amount, regrettably, is not enough to hold one plenary session”.

 “These fixed costs were respected from 2004 until 2021 when the Budget was reduced to US$11,887,700. However, the PAP was on an enforced hiatus in 2021 up to June 2022 owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic as well as the suspension of parliamentary activities following disagreements on the principle of rotation. Therefore, the institution was not affected by the budget reduction.”

“Unfortunately, when the PAP returned to full functionality in June 2022, the budgets for 2023 and 2024 were not revised to reflect the institution’s return to full operational functionality. In fact, the 2024 Budget was further reduced to US$10 570 625. At such a low level, it means PAP cannot conduct any meaningful business. The Committees cannot conduct business and cannot even hold statutory meetings. Plenary cannot meet and the Bureau cannot function fully”.

“If the PAP does not get a supplementary allocation from the AU, it will not be able to host the August Committee Session as well as the October/November Plenary Sitting as the entire budget has exhausted in funding this Plenary session.”

The President therefore appealed to the Ambassadors for support by engaging their respective Heads of State and Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) members to lobby for an increased budget for PAP.

In his speech, the Dean of African Ambassadors, His Excellency, Ambassadors Andre Nzapayeke congratulated Chief Charumbira on his election during the 25 March 2024 election and assured him of the support and cooperation of the Ambassadors in the Parliament’s quest to fulfill her mandate.

In his contribution, the Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa, His Excellency Ambassador Ahmed El Fadly advised the Parliament to ensure that the frequent crisis experienced by the Parliament becomes a thing of the past as it will be difficult to seek budget increases when the parliament is always in crisis. He condemned a situation where the African Union Commission is trying to transform itself into a supra-national organization with powers over all the other organs and observed that the African Union did not adopt the European Union Commission model. On the funding challenges facing the Parliament, he suggested that the Parliament should consider adopting the UN model where translators are only used during statutory meetings while English is used in all non-statutory meetings. Such a measure will reduce the budget for translation services. Other Ambassadors expressed concern over the African Union Commission’s penchant for interfering in the administration and management of the affairs of the Pan-African Parliament and other organs of the Union.



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