By Staff Reporters

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is largely ceremonial, without any legislative powers and is seriously under-resourced to finance its activities let alone pay its parliamentarians, lamented PAP President, Chief Fortune Charumbira. He was speaking during the official opening of the first Ordinary Session of the sixth Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

The session was held under the African Union (AU) theme of the year, “Building resilience in nutrition on the African continent: Accelerate the human capital, social and economic development.”Charumbira said PAP has a critical role to play in ensuring that as “the continental oversight organ of the AU, it was able to follow up on the effective implementation of the policies and programmes of the Union notwithstanding the fact that a particular theme has elapsed.” He backed up his assertion by citing Rule 4(1) of the PAP Rules of Procedure as read with Article 3(1) of the PAP Protocol which urges PAP to facilitate the implementation of the policies, objectives and programmes of the Union and oversee their effective implementation by the various organs of the Union.

He bemoaned the resource constraints hampering the progress of the institution while stating that over the past five years the institutional budget has been reduced by more than 50 % from USD 22 million (R391 million). It has wilted down to USD 11 million (R195 million) with USD 8 million (R142 million) going towards salaries while the remaining USD 2 million (R35 million) is for programmes.
“In addition, there is no allocation for fact-finding missions through which the PAP can effectively monitor the implementation of AU policies and programmes. The allocation to Committees is also not sufficient for a sitting let alone oversight activities and yet Committees are the engine room of any Parliament.

“We thus continue to appeal to the Union Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) for a stouter budget which will enable us to play our role to the full and leave a legacy of a Parliament that stood for the interests of its people. We must harness the positive spirit expressed by the Executive Council at the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Summit in July 2022 to elicit support in the allocation of a stouter budget,” he said calling upon the African Union to provide the required budgetary, technical and logistical support to enable the PAP to effectively discharge its mandate as a Continental Parliament.

The South African government has weighed in on the matter by saying it was aware of the challenges of the PAP, especially its limited legislative authority. Speaking on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said South Africa was among member states that are keen to change the institution’s toy parliament status. He said South Africa was seeking to ratify the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament adopted by the Twenty-Third Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on 27 June 2014.

The Revised Protocol, also known as the Malabo Protocol, has to be ratified by twenty-eight member states of the African Union to come into force. But so far, only fourteen countries have ratified the Protocol. “In order to strengthen the mandate of the PAP such that it becomes a legislative organ of the African Union as envisaged in the 2014 Malabo Protocol, I would like to appeal to all Parliamentarians to continue the advocacy work for the ratification of the afore-mentioned 2014 Malabo Protocol so that it may enter into force as soon as possible.” On the Host Country Agreement (HCA), Lamola pointed out that all the obstacles that militate against the building of a permanent secretariat had been resolved, adding that very soon, construction would soon commence at the site which will also house other AU organs and institutions in South Africa. With all its woes, the parliament is besieged by a legacy of corruption and misappropriated funds. National Assembly Chief Whip of the Majority Party in South Africa, and the country’s representative at the Pan-African Parliament, has called for a forensic probe into the finances of the continental parliament.

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