The day Africa hanged its head in shame


Pan-African Parliament

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) THE brutal standoff at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) will be etched in the annals of history as one of the most disgraceful episodes in a continent hailed as the cradle of humankind.

That the physical scuffles – a delegate allegedly threatened to kill another, a man kicked a female legislator and a female member used hand sanitiser to attack a fellow male delegate- were the more embarrassing in that they coincided with the last day of commemorations of Africa Month (May).

The fact that the elective session of the Parliament based in Midrand north of the city of Johannesburg in South Africa was televised could not deter rival regional factions turning the chamber into a war-zone on Monday.

Besides the wrestles that led to the deferment of elections of a new leadership, ethnic tensions prevailed as the divisions between the continent’s regional blocs were laid bare.

A shocked continent and the international community watched in horror as matters came to a head on Monday.

In the most horrific incident, an enraged man identified as Senegal’s representative, Djibril War, is filmed kicking South African envoy, Pemmy Majodina.

This exacerbated the pandemonium, in the host country that is battling the scourge of gender violence.

Zimbabwean delegate, Barbara Rwodzi, is also portrayed as angrily spraying her sanitiser in the direction of a retreating representative who could not be identified.

Calls for police to intervene in the fracas proved futile with the enforcers not to be found.

Last week, members in PAP engaged in a fierce debacle over the issue of rotational leadership instead of direct elections.

The Southern bloc is advocating for rotational leadership, similar to the reign over the African Union (AU), and its Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The Western region is apparently opposed to this.

Intervening earlier to resolve the impasse, AU’s legal directorate ruled in favour of rotational leadership, concluding PAP must follow AU rules.

Last week, there was brawl over the issue, with South African opposition leader, Julius Malema, alleged to have threatened to “kill” another delegate.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission chairperson, expressed shock at the incidents on Monday.

“The shocking scenes of violence at the Pan African Parliament today (Monday) tarnish the image of this honourable institution. I appeal to all parliamentarians to recover their composure and comply with the rules and procedures of the institution,” he said.

On Tuesday (today), South African delegation to the Pan African Parliament (PAP) condemned the brazen attempt by the Eastern and Western Caucuses to undermine the unity of the continent by not implementing an African Union resolution to rotate the Presidency of the continental parliament.

The PAP is holding the 4th Ordinary Session of its Fifth Parliament in Midrand under the African Union’s theme for 2021: “Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.’’ Today’s meeting was the fifth day of the Session which is scheduled until June 04.

The two Caucuses’ attempt to continue with electing the new PAP President ignoring advice from the AU that the “well-established principle of geographical rotation” within the Union be observed is a sign that they do not value unity in the continent.

“The two Caucuses have been using their majority in the continental Parliament to ensure only their candidates occupy the Presidency and when the time comes to account they use the same majority to shield them from accounting for how they spent the funds of the PAP,” said National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo who is also leader of the SA delegation to the PAP.

The parliament was scheduled to resume sitting on Tuesday afternoon amid uncertainty if elections would be held.

Founded in 2004, PAP is the legislative body of the AU.

It exercises oversight and has advisory and consultative powers.

Zimbabwe’s Chief Fortune Charumbira is president on an Acting capacity.

He took over from Bouras Djamel in March after the Algerian’s term became null with the dissolution of the North African country’s parliament.

– CAJ News

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