Chaotic scenes on the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg final week have prompted a robust response from throughout the continent. African Union (AU) Fee Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat known as for PAP actions to be suspended till the problems round electing a brand new PAP president and bureau have been settled. The incidents have uncovered an establishment that, apart from recurrent scandals of corruption, has hitherto existed in obscurity.
Many ask whether or not the PAP is price sustaining. It prices the AU round US$15 million yearly and appreciable sums to member states whose delegates attend the sittings twice a 12 months. The host nation, South Africa, pays for the venue of the PAP’s bi-annual sitting on the Gallagher Property conference centre.
Parliamentarians shouted and jostled over the precept of regional rotation within the election of the PAP bureau. Accusations pitted Anglophones towards Francophones (if such designations exist on a multilingual continent), suggesting that African unity is a false assemble.
The behaviour of PAP parliamentarians displays Africa’s disaster of management and governance. The talk in regards to the establishment’s utility and whether or not it needs to be maintained additionally exposes fault traces that precede the Organisation of African Unity’s formation. Some favour a gradualist strategy to creating efficient African establishments; others need extra steps to reaching African unity.
PAP is the one establishment the place opposition political events have a say within the African Union
The PAP was hailed at its 2004 launch because the beacon of democracy and pan-Africanism. It’s the solely establishment the place international locations’ opposition political events have a say within the AU. Because the continental physique closest to the individuals, the PAP was initially meant to supply oversight of the AU’s actions and make sure the implementation of its choices.
The parliament was additionally meant to supply a discussion board for discussing continent-wide points. For instance, final month the PAP’s Southern African caucus raised Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado insurgency. This was the primary such debate on the disaster by an AU establishment.
In keeping with its statutes, every of the AU’s 55 member states ought to delegate 5 MPs, at the very least one in all whom needs to be a girl. This was a progressive determination by the AU’s founding fathers on a continent the place gender equality was a good distance off and nonetheless is in a lot of Africa.
Nevertheless, the PAP has since suffered from an absence of legitimacy within the eyes of residents and the AU Fee in Addis Ababa. On the one hand, African governments (which represent the AU Meeting – the physique that directs the AU Fee) are averse to giving the PAP legislative powers. This displays a state of affairs in lots of international locations the place parliaments seldom play their oversight and legislative position and are sometimes thought of a nuisance.
The great intentions of the PAP’s architects have been sabotaged by these serving in it
Then again, the PAP would not have residents’ help, as MPs are sometimes there on account of fraudulent elections. They’re appointed to the PAP by nationwide parliaments fairly than being instantly elected, as is the case with members of the European Parliament.
In 2014 the AU Meeting adopted the Malabo Protocol that will finally give the PAP some legislative powers. Nevertheless solely 12 out of a minimal of 28 states has ratified the protocol, stopping it from taking impact. Even then, the Meeting may have the facility to find out which areas the PAP may have jurisdiction over.
In some ways, the nice intentions of the PAP’s architects have been sabotaged by these serving in it. Nothing illustrates this higher than final week’s unlucky occasions. MPs resorted to fistfights as a result of since its inception, the PAP presidency has been occupied by candidates from West, Central and East Africa as a result of these areas’ numerical benefit. Southern African MPs accused Francophone West and Central Africa of banding collectively as a result of their ‘neo-colonial roots’.
Which means a single vote per member state needs to be changed by a regional rotation system for PAP presidency – a standard follow in most AU establishments. The AU’s govt council additionally really useful this in 2017.
Enhancing nationwide democratic establishments is the primary precedence in fixing the PAP’s legitimacy disaster
The Francophone-Anglophone divide relies on a false argument. Since 2004, the PAP’s presidency has been occupied by candidates from East Africa (1), West Africa (1) and Central Africa (2). Two Francophones and two Anglophones have been within the prime place. The issue is that Southern and North Africa have by no means held the presidency.
Because the AU celebrates its 20th anniversary subsequent 12 months, it ought to critically replicate on its organs’ utility and standing. Enhancing democratic establishments at a nationwide degree is the precedence in fixing the PAP’s legitimacy disaster.
The continental parliament additionally wants a drastic overhaul to make it a worthwhile, clear and environment friendly establishment. This implies bettering its construction to deliver the voting system in step with different AU our bodies. The AU Fee must also combine the PAP into its programmes and occasions. For instance, the parliament hardly options on the primary agenda of AU summits, and the AU hierarchy routinely snubs PAP conferences.
The AU was created in 2002 and the PAP held its first sitting in 2004, simply 17 years in the past. These continental our bodies are pretty new and needs to be given an opportunity to adapt to present realities. Present reform of the AU and its establishments has seen some buildings in Addis Ababa merge into one. The AU can also be, for the primary time, present process a long-overdue rigorous auditing course of.
Visionary management is required to avoid wasting the PAP however time is working out. Africa’s youthful inhabitants is bored with ready for dysfunctional governing establishments to enhance and ship on their guarantees. MPs and the AU ought to use the suspension of the PAP’s actions to replicate on how the parliament can higher serve the continent than by means of fistfights and insults in entrance of the cameras.
Liesl Louw-Vaudran, Senior Researcher, ISS Pretoria