Pan-African Parliament decries financial starvation, lack of political goodwill as sittings conclude

Pan African Parliament

Kenyan President William Ruto addressing the Pan African Parliament, Midrand, South Africa. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | PCS

In Johannesburg

Insufficient budget,ratification apathy, poor attendance of sittings, allowance removal and under staffing are some of the major challenges derailing activities of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), its president said.

Delivering a performance review report of the continental parliament during its sixth sitting of its second ordinary session in Johannesburg, South Africa, PAP president Fortune Charumbira, said whereas budgets are considered and approved, the funds allocated remain grossly insufficient.

“At its present state, available resources do not correlate to the magnitude of work PAP is expected to execute particularly committees,” he said.

Mr Charumbira said poor attendance at plenary and committee sittings, which is attributed to inability of several parliaments to pay for their members expenses to attend and stay for whole duration of sessions or sittings, continues to hinder proper execution of parliamentary business. Adding that the removal of sitting allowance was also a contributing factor.

According to the chairperson of the committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, Mohamed Muntaka, out of the proposed budget of $25.1 million US dollars to the African Union Commission (AUC), only $11.9 million was approved. This, he says, could be a deliberate effort to kill the institution, pointing an accusing finger at the Permanent Representatives Council (PRC).

The chairman expressed fears that the August meeting for committees as well as second ordinary sittings in October now hang in the balance given that funds allocated have nearly been exhausted during the May session.

Leader of the Kenyan delegation, Senator Danson Mungatana challenged the continental legislature to devise ways of fundraising for its own resources by engaging the private sector in the continent  instead of allowing the AU to frustrate PAP.

Kenya’s Esther Passaris said each country’s delegation ought to establish whether their governments have met their financial obligations emphasizing that it is the only way that will ensure sufficient budgets are allocated.

On lack of political goodwill to ratify the 2014 Malabo Protocol that will give PAP legislative powers, Uganda’s Caroline Kansime said each country’s delegation should engage with their respective ministries of foreign affairs and report back the progress when the house reconvenes in October.

However, South Africa’s Pemmy Majodina said the country, which is yet to ratify the protocol despite being host country of the parliament, is not about to honour the deal unless article five of the protocol is amended which demands that PAP members should not be elected legislators.

The vocal law maker took a swipe at leadership of the Pan-African Parliament accusing it of failing to be forthright on the Morocco and Saharawi Republic conflict despite having visited the country.

She said, the mistreatment of Saharawi by Morocco is an acceptable and the continental parliament should not join the African Union in turning a blind eye on the issue.

During one of sittings, the session turned chaotic after delegations from Morocco and Saharawi engaged in a shouting match when the later accused AU of hypocrisy by its continuing to entertain Rabat saying it is violating her rights, in a way continuing to colonize Saharawi while all other African countries are free.

Other than the two countries, sharp divisions were also discovered in the bureau as well as regional caucuses. On Tuesday, plenary sittings were adjourned after after vice president Francoise Gayo who was presiding stopped the house from adopting a committee report on Women caucus on grounds of lack of quorum which enraged members who faulted him by arguing it was in his place as the presiding officer to raise the matter.

President Charumbira was forced to take over and rule his deputy out of order, but he stood his ground challenging the decision as members scoffed at him.

Charumbira attributed the fallout in bureau to succession wars given that as an elected senator, he is facing an election when Zimbabwe goes to the polls asking those salivating for his seat to hold their horses.

Lindiwe Khumalo from South Africa was approved as the new clerk of the Pan African Parliament. Prior to her appointment, Khumalo was serving as acting executive Secretary to the African Commission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul.