Pan African Parliament’s session abandoned – again


THE Pan African Parliament (PAP) session called to elect a new president descended into chaos for the second day running and led to its cancellation.

The session collapsed after the South and North African caucuses insisted that the elections could only take place if there was agreement that the presidency of the institution would be rotated among Africa’s five regions. Delegates from the West and Central Africa, were keen for the election to go on.

However, after more than an hour of chaos, the seating was adjourned and lights switched off. The African Union is expected to convene and lead a special session to elect a new leadership of the institution.

The second day of the PAP seating was no different from the first, which started with the banging of the desk and loud chants of “no rotation, no election” and ended with a karate kick at a woman MP. 

Monday’s plenary session of the PAP had been “normal” until the candidates for the presidency of the institution were asked to take turns, introduce themselves and state their motivations for the post. Then Barbara Rowdzi, a Zimbabwean MP and a member of the southern caucus declared that there would be no election if guidance from the African Union that there must be a rotation of the presidency, was ignored. “I am saying, based on the ruling earlier of the chairman and the AU response to the letter from the southern caucus, that this election cannot proceed without following the advice that came from the AU legal counsel. No rotation, no elections,” she said. 

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Several other MPs joined her call, banging on their desk, shouting as a free for all pandemonium erupted, making noises enough to make it impossible for the sitting to continue. MPs from the central and west Africa caucus wanted the election to go on. 

In desperation, Jaynet Kabila, an MP from the Democratic Republic of Congo and chair of the ad hoc committee managing the elections, asked for the police to be called to restore order in the house. “Please call the police,” she said as MPs engaged in a tug of war over a ballot box that was going to be used for elections.

Kabila then ordered the guests invited to the sitting to leave the parliament. 

As the male and female MPs continued to fight over the ballot box, South African MP, Pam Majodina, of the ANC, shouted. “Don’t touch that woman. It’s gender-based violence,” she said.

The verbal battle ensued, with MPs talking over each and shouting. One MP said if South Africa, whose members insisted on the rotation, did not want to continue hosting the PAP, it could be moved to another. “We are being held hostage by South Africa,” shouted one MP. Others called for the delegation from Mali to be removed from the meeting because the country has been banned by the Economic Community of West Africa after a military coup. 

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Later, as chaos ensued, Majodina was kicked by a fellow MP, Senegalese Djibril War. 

Majodina said she would lay charges against war. She later told the media that she tried to intervene in a scuffle between War and Zimbabwean MP, Pupurai Togarepi, when the attack took place. “I went there to make peace. I was trying to separate them. It is at that stage that I was attacked by the honourable Djibril, who is the chairperson of the rules…And he kicked me. I am not going to take this lying down,” she said.

Later, War, in an interview with the SABC, apologized to Majodina, saying that he did not intend to kick her but was trying to kick a cellphone of a fellow MP who was recording him. War and Majodina later made peace after he apologised.

The house was adjourned for caucuses to meet and chart the way forward.

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